Turn Your Winning Musical Instrument Idea into 5,000 Dollars

Ten thousand dollars is up for grabs through the Margaret Guthman competition. Georgia Tech is the host for the yearly musical instrument competition that promotes new musical instruments. The prize for the winner is $5,000. The deadline for entry has been extended to November 1st. The winners all rate highly for their ability to perform, program technology and compose great sounding music. Can you come up with a brilliant enough idea to win this competition? And then build it?

Margaret Guthman Competition

Some past winners have been covered on ShapeChangingInstruments included Keith McMillen and Eric Singer.

Keith McMillen won with the kBow. A wireless sensor that attaches to a violin bow. See a full review on his site. He has been inventing some of the best electronic musical instruments for the past 30 years

Remarkably, Eric Singer only won second place with his Lemur mechanical robots. Eric Singer has been making musical instruments for at least 15 years.


Marco Donnarumma’s Xth Sense gestural interface won in 2012. During the demostration video, it nearly looks like the music is controlling him, instead of responding to him. Fantastic

Interlude Consortium’s MO is a playful interface for interacting with compositions. And was a guthman winner.

But if you can’t meet the November 1st deadline, start planning for 2015. In the meantime consider visiting or participating at other conferences and events. NIME 2014 is coming to London. NIME stands for New Instruments for Musical Expression. It is a long standing conference for promoting new musical interfaces.

Music Hackday

If you are looking for a more low-key to share your idea, or brainstorm with others. Visit Music Hackday. Start preparting for 2014. There is one last event coming up in Boston – November 9th and 10th. Prizes range from iPhones to subscriptions to online services such as Pandora.

Here are the some of projects from past Music Hackdays. We went through the projects and pulled out a favorite projects from each event. However, it isn’t always clear which projects were completely successfully, or which ones were chosen as winners. Common themes include digital interfaces for musical competition, sonifying data streams and visualizing the results of different data sets.

New York hackers made Weather Synth. The weather synth did was not making any sound today, but did enjoy the idea of using live weather data to control a synthesizer.
Chicago hackers explored the auralization of 3D molecular interactions.
Toronto hackers were a bit more computer programming based. Among their works was an nifty iPad sequencer.
Philadelphia hackers allowed YouTube videos to control the magnetic resonator piano. Nice job building a new project on top of the existing work of Andrew Macpherson. (who went on to build TouchKeys)

Paris hackers used an Electro-Encephalograms (EEG) to control sound. Although, it is unclear if they were successful.
Denver Hackers built an multiuser audio game that uses the gestural sensors of the iPhone to allow players to compete against each other.

Finally, the international dorkbot and local hackerspaces are a great place to bounce of your musical ideas of other people.


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