I was a bit curious about the types of goods I might find at etsy, the ebay for handmade and diy goods, so naturally I checked out their musical instrument section. There, you’ll find no shortage of custom guitar picks and straps, various knobs, painted drums, and the like. But what I was most excited about were the custom synthesizers, sequences, and mini-electronic hardware options. Basically, there are some people out their combining their love for electronic music, electronic tinkering, and electronic means for accumulating money into some really cool, weird, and original tiny instruments. This looks like a great hobby to get into: custom instrument design. One of my favorite silly folk, one-man-band, keller williams has a custom drum machine/synthesizer that he uses for live looping and beat creation. Ever since I saw him at last year’s Summer Camp music festival, I’ve secretly wanted to create an instrument that only I own. Well it looks like these people have definitely beat me to the punch; they’re even selling their products online. Here are a few of my favorites:
This thing is really incredible. It’s just a little box that works like a miniature theremin wherein (those two words look nice next to one another!) the user can play different pitches and tones based on their movements over proximity and light sensors. If only you could change the sounds you can manipulate, say by using this as a sampler. It just looks like a really innovative way to control sound. I have no idea what it took to make, but it only takes $175 to own.
Here’s another made by the same guy. This looks a bit more like a professional product rather than a made-in-you-garage sound box. Apparently he is better at making these tiny instruments than he is at playing them, because I’m sure most people could get more sonically pleasing melodies out of this thing their first time using it. But who am I to judge what kind of beeps, bloops, and buzzes sound “best.” While this thing may look more durable than the box, it is apparently easier and/or cheaper to produce, as one of Wick’s Loopers will run you $119.
This last one is made by a different tiny musician / architect. I have chosen to include this little machine partially because of its extra portable form-factor, and partially because I feel a strange nostalgia to the nes (a game system I never played until the 2000’s). In the video it’s easy to see how one could make some cool rhythmic sounds with this piece, but like in the video prior to this one, the demonstrator doesn’t seem to have a knack for creating catchy tunes. I found this video by looking at the others on youtube, and this product doesn’t look to be currently available. However, Mike, the creator of this little wonder, is currently selling an even more retro controller/synth: the atari-paddle version, for only $35 on etsy.
It looks like I need to get busy playing video games, making music, or soldering. I’m just not sure which I’m most motivated to do at the moment. (So I guess I’ll just blog.)