Visiting the World Class Organ Makers

CB Fisk in Gloucestor, MA recently finished two church organs. Everytime they finish a new opus, they invite the public to share in their masterwork, before the pieces get dismantled and shipped to churches around the world.

Here are some takeaways from a recent visit:

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Have You Ever Jammed with Animals?

Yes folks – there is an  Animal Music Symposium happening. Does that make you laugh or cry? Its going down in June in Austria, based on the following premise:

The Animal Music Symposium intends to approach the various aspects of musical animal-machine interaction from an interdisciplinary perspective. Internationally renowned experts from the fields of animal cognition, computer science, contemporary arts and cultural studies will discuss the musical capabilities of animals and present the latest scientific, cultural and ethical findings in this field. This symposium and the related exhibition at Salzamt are part of the ongoing artistic-research project metamusic initiated by alien productions, which is dedicated to the design of musical instruments for grey parrots, a species known for its outstanding cognitive and communicative abilities.

Its possible to meow at cats and bark at dogs to illicit a response and have a conversation. Some animals speak in songs, such as birds and whales. Maybe you’ll make the next Keyboard cat . When was the last time you were able to play a song together with the animals or improvise some new sounds? Most of the time, they are just trying to get us to shut up.
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Open D Tuning! You bastards!

This kickass video reminds us that all we need is little bit more open D tuning.
Passion makes ideas stick. Energy flows from high to low? Somebody cranking out insane amounts of energy (up to 11), sticks with the people around him.

About a month before this video came out, my music teacher showed my open D tuning. Suddenly, the guitar had a whole new personality, and within a few minutes new jams were coming out. I’m stealing his line –

“Sometimes you need somebody to show you new waypoints in the vast ocean of musical possibilities. ”

Its fun. Do it. Tune to Open D.

Foamcore / Foamboard Mandolin

Rapid prototyping methods are the new wave of engineering. As manufacturing new test design move toward lasercutting and 3d-printing, I’ve been looking into one materials. Foamboard makes a great sounding board, and nobody seems to work with it So, I put together a quick foamboard mandolin based on the Saga Mandolin kit.

Here is the first prototype:

Foamboard Mandolin

Now, what makes a great sound board? Well first, we need to dive into some engineering terms.

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Kickstarter Electronic Recorder

Our friends over at Cantux Research launched their Kickstarter project for the electronic recorder synthesizer.

Ever since  The Outliers where Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, we’ve been looking at electronic instruments that repurpose existing paths to virtuosity. To reach that 10,000 hours – an instrument requires a progression from which to travel from novice to master. Learning curves with existing teachers and learning materials come with a track record of success. The recorder fits the bill. It already has tons of books, videos and teachers. But, the eCorder takes it to a whole new level

On top of the recorder interface, Michael Shonle and his team has built a synthesizer based on Physical Modeling (PM) principles combined with subtractive synthesis. All the nuance of tone and voice control is used to drive a PM synth, which is then combined with some wicked resonant filters and DSP goodness.  Or take advantage of  its has MIDI and CV output, and use it to rock out on existing synthesizers.

We’ve written about the best kickstart musical instruments in the past, and the eCorder is one of our favorites. Michael designed his own case which is 3D printed, as well as the circuit board that is the underlying controller and the software synthesis software that is included. This is the future of musical instrument manufacturing indeed.

Go support this kickstarter project!