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“It’s a MIDI RING”

Wasn’t something like this made before? Strange to see a music gadget shown at CES, one that only musicians would probably be interested in. Not exactly “general consumer electronics”. Hope they also go to NAMM.

(Also wish The Verge would hire an actual editor to edit the awful posts their “correspondents” keep posting….)

” This terrifying synth installation is powered by human blood “

Dmitry Morozov (previously) does another crazy thing. “It took 18 months for Morozov to collect all 4.5 liters (almost eight pints) of the blood necessary to power the installation, which went through a preservation process and was diluted to seven liters. When brought into contact with the aluminum and copper in the battery, the electrolytes in the blood generate a small electrical current.”

His website blogs the numerous devices and installations he’s done in recent years, and lists older devices under “Instruments”. He really cranks out the ideas.


Mentioned in an incoherent Matrixsynth post in 2009 and almost ignored since then. As far as we can find, it was made in 1958 and uses twelve Tesla bench audio oscillators to generate an octave (FYI the Tesla company was the largest electronics manufacturer in Czechoslovakia in the Communist era); with unspecified top-octave dividers to do the lower pitches. Might be all-tube as far as we can tell. It appears to have primitive pitch and other controls for each key. Thus is more like an electronic organ with expansions than anything else. “Synthesizer” is really pushing it. Three whole octaves!

Anyone wanting to learn more will have to physically go to the Czech Museum of Music and ask intrusive questions. Only one was built and it’s kept in a sealed glass case.

Roli puts out a new Seaboard

And the worst part: people post it on social media and snipey little nobodies start attacking it for being “too expensive” and “oh I heard the keys were wrong or too close together or something” or “it doesn’t work with suchandsuch gear”, whine whine whine. Have a look at this Facebook thread for a perfect example. (Warning: you must be a member of the “Synthesizers and Drum Machines” FB group to see it.)

Nowhere else online can I find negative comments or reviews of Roli controllers — the tech and music blogs who covered it had good things to say. And NO ONE screamed that $299 was “too expensive”.

Facebook is a haven for petty attacks. For all I know the people on that thread were employed by competitors and being paid to knock down any innovative product. Seen it happen on Wikipedia over and over and Facebook is perfect for this kind of “carpet bombing”.


Evidently the Zivix “Jamstik” isn’t the big hit they thought it would be, because today old stock is being blown out at 40% off. In case you didn’t see it before, the Jamstik is a “guitar” that was aimed at the iPhone world. I assume they thought only Apple fans would pay $300 for a gizmo that was “useless” without an iPhone or iPad. And has only five frets.

At least, that was how they started out; Android support is being waved around, although not ready yet(?). It has a USB MIDI-data output, so presumably it will work with any desktop or laptop apps capable of accepting generic MIDI controller data. So they claim anyway. Good luck with compatibility issues.

Also, it’s “made in America”. Uh huh, suuuure.

The Volt-Axxe

volt-axxe control cabinet
The Volt AxXe is a guitar-shaped control instrument that is capable of controlling 1 or more analog synthesizers through the use of control voltages.

It is comprised of four touch sensitive ribbons on the neck, as well as a programable switch and multi-dimensional touch surface on the body.

Each ribbon produces a 0-5 volt control voltage, as well as a 5 volt gate signal.

The multi-dimensional touch surface produces voltages X and Y, relative to Cartesian position on the surface. The touch surface produces voltage A, relative to the amount of surface area with which the user has contact, and also produces a 5 volt gate signal.

The ribbon voltages can be offset and scaled to any tuning configuration ranging from microtonal to macrotonal.

The Volt AxXe produces 13 individual control voltages, giving the user an unprecedented level of control. It opens the doors for many forms of musical articulation that were previously unavailable to the electronic musician. It is capable of facilitating performances ranging from realistic bass guitar-like performances to vast experimental soundscapes.

The Volt AxXe has been designed entirely in the analog domain.

Roger is finally shipping the Linnstrument

The 2015 NAMM video explains it very well. Just once, it would be nice to see an alternative controller sell in figures comparable to the boring “workstation” synthesizers.

Greater Vancouver Alternative Musical Instrument Group forming

From Ken Rushton:

Want an advantage over other musicians and to look really cool?

I’m starting an Alternate Musical Instrument S.I.G. in the Greater Vancouver area. It’s for those who want to gain a musical edge. Do you:
– really, hugely want to learn to play an instrument, but don’t because the instrument is arcane or everyone else is musicians that started years ago
– are non-keyboard musicians: especially guitar players and sax players that want to play a keyboard but don’t because the keyboard is so bloody confusing
– are mediocre keyboardists that want a killer advantage: an instrument that is much faster to play and has many more musical possibilities than the traditional instrument
– are composers that want composition-boosting (instead of confusing) instruments

This is a great time in the development of musical instruments. New, intelligently designed ones are coming out; we now have the Daskin (a modernized piano), Dualo Du-touch, Terpstra, LinnStrument and jammer keyboards. All of these are designed to be both easy to learn, fast to play and train the ear accurately. This is not hard – traditional instruments are not designed for any of these things. All of the new instruments have uniform, consistent fingering, that is, if you learn to play a song in a given key, you can play it equally well in all keys, and modulations are easy. Each has unique features.

If these new instruments sound scary-hard to learn, there is now available teaching software that multiplies musical learning speed and it works particularly well on the new gadgets.

The group purpose: to check-out these new instruments, share ideas, experiences and gain extra proficiency in music. This will be lots of fun & interesting.

See or

MusicScienceGuy’s farewell to the AXiS Keyboards

From Ken Rushton:

“The makers of the innovative 2-D array AXiS-64 and AXiS-49 (sic) alternate Keyboard controllers will soon pull the plug on sales, after 5 years in an unexpectedly tough market.”

“This note is to (a) inform you of the existence of these units for a short while more, just in case you happen to need instrument(s) with 2-dimensional arrays of velocity-sensitive keys, and (b) I’ve persuaded the developers/investors in the Axis to tell us a little of their story, in

“This posting may sober-up anyone that contemplates building a new instrument:”

“I’ve made extensive use of the AXiS-49 controllers, but not as they were intended: reprogrammed the key array; changed the orientation and recolored the keys. They were initially built around a harmonic-table key layout, but a firmware update allowed them to become flexible.”

“I personally believe their story would have been substantially different if they had made an instrument that generic from the start. Moral: target as large a customer base as you can. ”

(Verified here.)