Off Notes: Inventing New Instruments

off notes carolein

Happy Friday!

We never go into writing Off Notes with a theme, but week after week, there seem to be common threads in everything we come across. This week: creating instruments. We’ve found not one, but two newly-invented instruments, a stunning video of building a guitar by hand, and a short piece of web code that will turn your laptop into a theremin! But fear not, we have some Friday afternoon goodness in here, too. Your rewards for getting to the end of this list include a mash-up of Notorious BIG with 90s sitcom Dinosaurs and a Eurovision princess shaking her shoulders. Enjoy your weekend!

What we’ve been reading

  • As an on-the-record lover of music gossip and songs that sound alike, I’ve been rapt by the “Blurred Lines”/”Got to Give It Up” case. There are some really interesting debates going on in the music community about it. Professor Joe Bennett put together an exhaustive breakdown of each part in the songs and whether the verdict is musically correct (his conclusion: not really). The Washington Post argued that the verdict represents a troubling shift in how copyright is applied and thinks it will ultimately damage the music industry. And writer Paul Cantor takes a hyperbolic, but ultimately optimistic view of the ways the ruling might ultimately be good for music. But in writing this I wound up re-watching the “Blurred Lines” music video, and you know what? I think I’ve stopped caring why the song got in trouble. I’m really just glad that it did. [, The Washington Post, Medium]
  • Let’s wash the smarm out of our minds with this: Tomorrow Prince is starting his Hit and Run tour, throwing spontaneous concerts around the country with tickets going on sale moments before the concerts start. If anyone has an inside scoop on how to score tickets share your tips in the comments! [Consequence of Sound]
  • This Kickstarter project looks amazing. Artiphon’s new Instument 1 is a drum machine, piano, violin, guitar, synth, sitar, bass, and more, all in one. We want one so badly. [Artiphon on Kickstarter]

  • Another newly-invented instrument, Opho’s Keys teaches you piano using light-up keys and intuitive patterns. But my first thought was that I had that technology back in 1993 with my Miracle Piano Teaching System! And really, who needs either when you have Soundfly’s Building Blocks of Piano course! [Techcrunch and Wikipedia]
  • A true genius started a Tumblr pairing rap artists and their album art with 14th-17th century museum pieces and the similarities are honestly uncanny. [b4-16 on Tumblr]
  • Check out what every artist who played Woodstock got paid [Frank Hannon Band on Facebook]
  • Researchers have developed music that specifically appeals to cats. [Smithsonian]
  • This is what it looks like when you put an iPhone inside of a guitar on a sunny day:

  • Songwriters: a new start-up lets you hire an entire orchestra for 7-minute long recording sessions for $99! [99 Dollar Orchestra]
  • Spotify recently released a whole bunch of data on what songs we’re listening to, and took particular interest in analyzing playlists called “Sex” and “Love”. Surprisingly, 63% of “Love” playlists are compiled by men and the number one song on them is John Legend’s “All of Me”. Who knew the guys were such saps! [Newser]
  • Want to turn your computer into a motion-detecting theremin using only the speakers and microphone? Of course you do. [Daniel Rapp on]
  • Watch this stunning video of Eitan Bartal building a guitar by hand. [Alteroy on Vimeo]

  • Did you enjoy Jeremy’s Mike Evin article a few weeks ago? Check out what happened behind the scenes when you take a group of elderly people to a bar to shoot a music video. (Spoiler: there’s a bra hanging from a traffic sign). [MikeEvin on YouTube]
  • This nine-year-old piano prodigy will blow your mind. [Fox5 San Diego]
  • Speaking of feats of incredible skill, your life will be better for watching this mash-up of 90s sitcom Dinosaurs and Biggie’s “Hypnotize” (if you haven’t listened to “Hypnotize” lately, the lyrics are very much NSFW).

What we’ve been listening to

And I leave you today with life advice. When looking for new music, there is perhaps no better place in the world to find examples of sonic perfection than the esteemed Eurovision competition. Meet the latest jewel in their crown, German superstar-to-be Cärolein:

RJD2: From Samples to Songs

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