Connected Objects Music

Instrument 1 gets your groove on no matter how you play

The power of music apps have opened the door to a wide range of controllers — things that look like keyboards and disco floors and guitars. The incredible variety of sounds they offer when paired with the right software, however, pales in comparison to their relatively limited ways of producing those sounds.

That’s not the case for unfortunately named Instrument 1, a bold MIDI controller and musical instrument that allows mixing and matching of sounds and play methods. One can strum it like a guitar with its “digital strings” that don’t break, pluck it like a bass, tap it like a drum machine or play it a bit like a piano keyboard. There’s even a way to emulate guitar playing when used with an iPhone or watch. About the only traditional way of producing sound from an instrument that isn’t supported is blowing into it.

The compact Instrument 1 can run for about three hours off its built-in battery (alas, it uses too much juice to charge via USB) and i1s companion app  allows owners to define their own sounds. The versatility can keep backers’ hands occupied for $349 come January 2016. Artiphon  seeks $75,000 by April 12th. Curiously, particularly given how many organizations helped in the product’s development. the company is shying away from committing to producing more Instrument 1 units after fulfilling its Kickstarter obligations

The Instrument 1 is reminiscent of the Zivx Jamstik that was successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo back in 2014, but that product — while also portable and less expensive — is more focused on replicating a guitar experience on the go for learning and practice. But this latest MIDI-compatible plaything should evoke a lot of fun for newbies who want to experiment with different methods of producing music as well as experienced musicians who want something compact and versatile.

Music Technology

RoboTar strikes a chord for those whose disabilities prevent guitar playing

The Premise. It’s often said that learning a musical instrument can be tough, and it is. But teaching a musical instrument can also be a difficult task. You need to have an instrument to demonstrate on, but also need to be free to make corrections to your student. 

The Product. RoboTar is a robotic guitar hand. More simply put, it can be placed over the first four frets of any standard size guitar and it plays chords while you strum. The device attaches to a computer, tablet or smartphone via a USB cord. Existing songs or songs of the musicians own making can be loaded onto the app which controls the product. A foot pedal allows the player to change chords. The product is made of a thin white plastic and lights show which frets are being played when RoboTar is on.

The Pitch. RoboTar’s creator speaks in his video about how his father’s debilitating stroke inspired the product. He was looking for an instrument that could be played by anyone unable to use both hands. From there, the product’s uses branched out to novice players and music teachers. The campaign also shows footage of people using RoboTar, making it easier to understand the product. RoboTar is aiming for an ambitious $230,000 goal in its 40-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. For a first production run version of the RoboTar, backers will have to donate $795 for delivery in December 2014. To save $50, backers can also opt for the later second production run RoboTar for $745 set to ship in June 2015. Higher tiers offer a wireless version of the product which uses Bluetooth technology and a battery pack.

The Potential. Any product that allows someone to play a musical instrument who otherwise would not be able to is awesome. In addition, it has great benefits for everyone else like holding chords while the melody is played higher up on the fingerboard, cutting out the need for a rhythm guitarist. The MiKord is a similar product aimed at helping novice guitar players perform songs, but doesn’t give the freedom to change chords at will. However, the MiKord’s lack of freedom makes it much less expensive than the RoboTar. Still, the RoboTar is a great product for anyone who would like to play the guitar, but is unable to do so.