Input Music

Kyub takes MIDI mini, offers six-sided sonic synthesis

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 1.53.40 PMMusical instruments can be large and bulky, but technology allows people to make music without needing the actual instrument. Kyub is a three-dimensional feather touch MIDI keyboard that fills in the gap between relying on a QWERY keyboard and using a physical MIDI keyboard. What that really means is that it is a compact cube with metal sensors all over it and an accelerometer inside of it. When you touch the sensors, the Kyub makes music and sounds like a piano with different experimentation options. While it certainly entails foreign fingering for experienced keyboardists, this unique little product uses USB for power and is compatible with different software synthesizers. Early backers can enjoy a fully assembled Kyub for $199 by July 2014. Kyub hopes to raise $20,000 in its 33-day Kickstarter campaign.


MIDI Sprout turns home vegetation into Robert Plant

The Premise. Humans have had a long-time love affair with music. It is part of our culture, our customs and even our identity. We’ve crafted instruments of all shapes and sounds and musical genres to suit every culture and mood. But numerous individuals and groups have proved that you don’t always need an instrument to make music.

The Product. MIDI Sprout shows us that humans are not the only species who can create sophisticated musical compositions. It is a biofeedback-to-MIDI converter that enables plants to play synthesizers in real-time based on their physiological changes from the environment. The MIDI Sprout comes with two probes that send out a small electrical charge from a battery and attach to a leaf. In humans, the same technology provides insights into emotional states and is the basis of simple lie detector readings. While MIDI Sprout will not be able to prove whether plants have a hidden consciousness, it can transform data from living plants into biofeedback art to be experienced by all – just add a computer or synthesizer.

The Pitch. A-sharp? Data Garden, makers of the MIDI Sprout focus their Kickstarter campaign on educating potential backers on the concept of the “DIY biofeedback movement” and its benefits. The campaign video features music generated by plants and the voice of a futuristic woman who talks over images of people experiencing biofeedback art and interacting with plants. Data Garden aims to raise $25,000 in 45 days which will be used to produce prototypes for artists to use in installations and performances and to distribute to the wider public, including backers.

The Perks. Just to give backers some room for options, Data Garden amazingly offers 23 commitment levels, ranging from $1 to $10,000. You’ll have to pledge at least $95 to the project if you want to receive your very own pre-built MIDI Sprout converter ready to hook up to your plant and synthesizer/computer. If Data Garden reaches goal, MIDI Sprouts are expected to ship by November 2014.

The Potential.  While there are products which convert human biofeedback to MIDI, they are for medical use and quite expensive. MIDI Sprout would be the first affordable converter intended to be marketed “to the masses”. For the general public, raising awareness of biofeedback art and its potential impact will be necessary for the product to gain success. Until then it will likely become a fad that only a small niche of artists and perhaps some environmentalists will open their wallets for.


For those about to rock, Amperage Pedals will help

The Premise. Trying to make it in the music business is hard, that’s no secret. Besides all the shows, all the writing and the practice, there’s a physical aspect to it as well. Putting on a good show usually requires managing a lot of equipment and making audio adjustments. Without a roadie or a sound guy, that just becomes even more work to add into the mix.

The Product. The Amperage Pedal is designed to take the ease of bringing a laptop or tablet on stage with an act and give it the kind of functionality that a quality amp would. With chicken-head knobs that are easy to turn and full programmability through the StageManager program packaged with it, musicians can change the volume, tone, treble, bass, mid, reverb, or anything that can be assigned through a MIDI controller. This package of hardware and software is designed to ultimately do one thing: rock crowds.

The Pitch. The North Shore Guitar team shows off what the Amperage Pedal can do with a quick studio jam session. The demonstration is a little long for what it offers, but true guitar aficionados will see the impact, and after all that’s who this product is made for. The other campaign materials show off the Amperage Pedal’s internals, and there is also a video demonstration of the StageManager software necessary to bring the most out of the pedal. The project is looking for the oddly precise sum of $9,781 to order all the necessary parts to manufacture the pedals.

The Perks. The Amperage Pedal takes the stage in May 2014. Early backers can get the pedal and the corresponding StageManager software for $178. Musicians that want to add a little flair can have custom artwork put on their pedal at the $370 tier.

The Potential. The Amperage Pedal isn’t exactly high-tech, it’s not stylish or flashy, and it probably won’t revolutionize the small concert. But it does look extremely well-built, perfectly functional, and will probably be a giant leap forward for those that take the time to get used to how the device works and how it can improve a live performance. It’s a curious mix of effect pedal and mixing board that could become a staple for upcoming bands everywhere.


Guitar Wing lets instrument-mounted controls and effects take flight

The Premise. Austin, Texas is known for at least two things: live music and weirdness. The town’s Livid Instruments has long embraced the intersection of those with a range of music products. But while there’s nothing been weird about wanting to have access to musical effects and controls at the tip of a guitarists’ nimble digita, the company had nothing to offer them until now.

The Product. A button-laden and LED-filled overlay that fits over the bottom right corner of an electric guitar’s body, the Guitar Wing lets guitarists have control over their existing software on their computer via MIDI effects, GarageBand, and even stage lighting effects through the product’s Win FX software plugin. Performers can glance at the LED control panel while playing instead of over at the computer, and a motion sensor can be used to control performance effects to make it easier to be a musician and a stage tech. Wireless technology lets musicians move around the stage without snagging cables or accidentally unplugging things. Livid Instruments promises the Guitar Wing can be used on almost any electric guitar or bass, and musicians will be pleased to note that this can be added and removed without damaging your instrument.

The Pitch. Livid explains that the Guitar Wing has been built, tweaked and tested, and a final prototype is ready. The Kickstarter funds will be used for the production costs of making GuitarWing. By producing in bulk, the company plans to keep consumer costs reasonable, and hopes to crowdfund these start-up costs. Livid’s most powerful tool in the campaign is the testimony of artists, which is key for such a product that would ordinarily require a level of tactile experience to judge.

The Perks. For $179, or $149 early-bird pricing, backers will receive the GuiterWing itself. But that’s far from being the highest price point, with $1500 backers receiving a personal, instructional demo from Guitar Wing staff. It’s slated to do its thing on stage in April 2014.

The Potential. Livid instruments has a track record of designing and creating add-ons for musicians. Guitar Wing will simplify and enhance live music performances. The company has successfully identified a need for musicians, especially in smaller bands, to connect to their computer for effects while performing. The product may appear as a bit of distraction and one will have to trust the testimonials for how easy it is to integrate into riffs, but there seems to be a great opportunity for use with performers.