The bold claim from the University of Wollongong is that their 3D-printed flutes will “revolutionise the music industry”. While the demand for unusually tuned recorders isn’t particularly high, the technology they’ve used to create custom instruments could have many applications. By using computer modelling to calculate the length of an instrument and the position of its holes to get the desired tunings, they’ve been able to produce recorders in a whole variety of scales. Could microtonal guitars and basses be next?
Back in the 1980s, my friend Martin owned a vertically mounted turntable made by Sharp. As we gazed at a Frankie Goes To Hollywood 12-inch single spinning on an unusual axis, it seemed like something out of the future. But now we’re in the future, a company called Gramovox has decided to resurrect this idea to the delight of vinyl fetishists everywhere. It’s minimalist, retro and ridiculous – but still curiously tempting. Also in the range: a bluetooth gramophone with an enormous horn. No kidding.
Only the most staunchly conservative music teacher would insist that you can’t be a proper musician unless you can read music. But budding Dutch musician, Pieter-Jan Pieters, found himself barred from attending his local music academy for precisely that reason. His response was to invent a series of instruments called OWOW (Omnipresent World Of Wizkids) that transform hand gestures, finger movements and even drawings into musical ideas. The OWOWs show that technology can help anyone make music, regardless of their skill level.