Music

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Animation Music

A Quirky Animated Short Featuring Musical Robots that Play Themselves

August 8, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Here at Colossal we can’t stop jamming out to this animated short from London-based animation studio Animade featuring six bubbly musical robots designed to play themselves. Titled Robot & The Robots, the clip was created as an internal studio project, but you can see more of their commercial work here. If you like this, also check out Michael Marczewski’s Vicious Cycle. (via Vimeo)

 

 



History Music

Notation Knives: Listen to Cutting Edge Music From the Renaissance

July 18, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Notation Knives, c. 16th century. Artist unknown. Fitzwilliam Museum Collection, Cambridge. Photo by Johan Oosterman.

It’s not exactly musical chairs, but this Renaissance-era cutlery can carry a tune at any table setting. Dating back to the 16th century, these extremely rare knives are engraved with musical scores complete with lyrics. On one side is a benediction that may have been sung before a meal, and then a grace on the reverse side that was sung after eating. For instance the knife below reads: “The blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat.” And the other side reads: “The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity.”

Left & right views of an etched, engraved and gilded steel knife with ivory, brass and silver handle, by an unknown maker, Italy, 1500–50.

What isn’t clear to historians is how this may have all played out in actuality. It would be uncommon for a wealthy Italian family who might have possessed such opulent knives to cut their own meat, the task instead performed by a squire. But perhaps they were reserved only for special ceremonies or holidays. Kristen Kalber, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum where some of these knives are kept, lays out a few theories in the video below.

Luckily for us the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries approached the Royal College of Music to create recordings of what the music on the notation knives sounds like when performed by a choir. Here are examples of a benediction and grace from one knife, but you can hear additional recordings on the V&A website. (via My Modern Met, Open Culture, WQXR)

 

 

 

 



Design Music

The Apprehension Engine: An Instrument Designed to Play the Music of Nightmares

June 26, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Movie composer Mark Korven wanted to craft the perfect sounds for horror movies, but the instruments he needed didn’t exist, and he was tired of using the same digital samples. To produce the original effects needed for evoking breathtaking moments of suspension, he teamed up with guitar maker Tony Duggan-Smith to craft an original instrument that would better aid in manufacturing fear. The Apprehension Engine is that tool, a mechanism built with several bowed metal rulers, spring reverbs, a few long metal rods, and other attachments that allow for spooky interludes and effects.

“A normal instrument, you are playing it and expecting it to have a sound that is pleasing,” said Korven to Great Big Story, “but with an instrument like this, the goal is to produce sounds, that in this case, are disturbing.”

The Apprehension Engine expresses the emotions that cannot be expressed in other ways, triggering fear with intense sonic methods. You can listen to more music by the machine tuned to provoke horror in the video below. (via Great Big Story)

 

 



Art Music

WoodSwimmer: A New Stop-Motion Short Made Entirely by Tediously Cutting Through Wood

June 15, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

WoodSwimmer is a new short film by engineer and stop-motion animator Brett Foxwell, who has built armatures for films such as Boxtrolls and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Created in collaboration with musician and animator bedtimes, the work follows a piece of raw wood through a milling machine, capturing its unique growth rings, knots, and weathered spots through a series of cross-sectional photographic scans. Due the speed at which the images are animated, the log’s grains begin to flow like granules of sand—shifting, mixing, and flowing in a vibrant dance that seems completely removed from its rigid material.

“Fascinated with the shapes and textures found in both newly-cut and long-dead pieces of wood, I envisioned a world composed entirely of these forms,” Foxwell told Colossal. “As I began to engage with the material, I conceived a method using a milling machine and an animation camera setup to scan through a wood sample photographically and capture its entire structure. Although a difficult and tedious technique to refine, it yielded gorgeous imagery at once abstract and very real. Between the twisting growth rings, swirling rays, knot holes, termites and rot, I found there is a lot going on inside of wood.”

Heads up: watching this full-screen in HD with sound makes all the difference. You can see more of Foxwell’s works, like his 19-minute film Fabricated, on his Vimeo.

 

 



Design Music

Rock Band: An Electromechanical Sound Machine That Makes Music With Rocks

March 15, 2017

Christopher Jobson

A rolling stone gathers no moss as they say, but this collection of stones manipulated by electromechanical devices are capable of performing George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” thanks to artist Neil Mendoza. Titled Rock Band, this kinetic sound art installation is actually four different instruments including a xylophone, a buzzing base, two spinners, and a pair of slappers. Mendoza describes how each device works:

Xylophone: Inside each of the tubes is a small pebble. When the Teensy receives a note for this instrument, it triggers a solenoid (electromagnet), to launch the pebble up a tube and strike a key. For the design of this piece, I wrote a piece of software that calculated the size each key needed to be to produce the appropriate frequency and then cut them out using a water jet cutter.

Bass: This is the small marble circle in the front. When the Teensy receives a note for this one, it causes the plunger of a solenoid (electromagnet) to vibrate at the frequency of the appropriate musical note against the rock.

Spinners: These are the two large objects on either side and are percussive. Inside each of these, there are two magnets attached to each end of a shaft. On the outside, there are two magnetic rocks, Hematite, that are attracted to the magnets on the inside. When a note is received, the shaft spins and one of the rocks is guided away from its magnet and launched through the air. It lands on a piece of marble that has been cut to size to fit in the machine.

Slapper: These slap the rocks with pieces of fake leather and provide some light percussion.

All of the machines were built at Autodesk’s Pier 9 workshop in San Francisco as part of their artist in residence program. You can see more of Mendoza’s mechanical works on his website.

 

 



Design Music Photography

The Grandeur of German Pipe Organs Photographed by Robert Götzfried

March 9, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Long fascinated by the design of pipe organs, photographer Robert Götzfried was recently permitted into 20 Catholic churches in southern Germany where he was able to create portraits of these mammoth instruments. When viewed singularly the pipe organ is impressive enough, but collectively the photos tell the story of an ancient instrument that varies so strikingly in design and layout that it’s hard to believe these are somehow the same musical device.

In his photographic practice Götzfried often approaches a variety of similar objects or locales both grand and obscure from Cambodian barber shops to bowling alleys or abandoned gas stations. Through each collection he quickly highlights the similarities or differences that bind a culture or lifestyle together. You can explore more of his photography on Facebook. (via Fubiz)

 

 



Crafts Design Illustration Music

Miniature Retro Papercraft Synthesizers by Dan McPharlin

March 9, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Produced between 2006 and 2009, Australian designer and illustrator Dan McPharlin's Analogue Miniatures are a marvel of papercraft. The tiny analogue synthesizers and pieces of recording equipment were pieced together with paper, framing mat board, string, rubber bands and cardboard, and appeared in everything from art shows to editorial spreads in magazines like Esquire. McPharlin is widely known for his retro sci-fi illustration work that appears on album covers and in limited edition prints, and he brings this aspect of fiction to these paper models as well. None of the objects are meant as exact replicas or recreations of real-life devices, but are instead speculative objects that draw aesthetic attributes from the audio technology of the 70s and 80s.

You can see many more pieces from Analogue Miniatures on Flickr. (via Strictly Paper)

 

 

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