Experimental and obscure musical instruments from the bygone era

We all know about the Theremin (right?) but have you heard of the Pyrophone? … Ondes Martenot? The Cristal Baschet? What about the American Photoplayer?

via The Vintage News

When it comes to musical instruments and music, there is no limit to people’s creativity and imagination. Literally everything around us can be used as an instrument, as a means to produce sound. Music has been an inseparable part of human existence since the beginning of our evolution.

Throughout history, musicians and instrument makers have been experimenting with different ways of producing sound and melody. Some of the contraptions created have become a standard in the musical world. The others, the ones that are more experimental or obscure, are pushing the borders of sound and inspiring musicians to pursue new horizons.

Take the deep dive into this wacky world here

Connecting Hardware Instruments to Ableton Live


You see it in the store every time you go: that beautiful, expensive synthesizer. You love the way the knobs feel on your fingers, and the way the keys respond to your touch. But, “I’m not really a hardware person, I’m an software person,” you think to yourself. And, oh, how wrong you are.

Ableton Live makes it incredibly easy to use external, hardware instruments with software instruments.

There are a few different methods to do this, so let’s run down the two most popular ones:

1. Sampling A Performance

This method requires an audio interface of some sort, but doesn’t require a MIDI interface. Simply plug the audio output of your instrument into the input of your interface, and set up an Audio track.  Once signal from the instrument shows up in Live, you are all set to record your keyboard part!  After you’ve recorded, you can move around and slice audio to taste. You can even slice different performances and sounds together to get cool, new sounds and progressions.

2. Connecting via MIDI


This is the more complicated of the two methods. This method requires both an audio and a MIDI interface. Luckily, most audio interfaces these days come with a built in MIDI interface. Some hardware instruments can also transmit MIDI via USB, cutting the MIDI interface out of the equation. Either way, you’re going to need to both audio AND MIDI connections between your computer and your hardware instrument.

Instrument Window

Once you’ve set up your connections, you’ll want to set up an “External” instrument on a MIDI track in Live.

External Instrument

Select “MIDI To” and make sure that it is going to the appropriate destination, either your interface or the instrument itself, depending on the connection.


Now, select “Audio From” and make sure that it is set to the appropriate input. Otherwise, you Live won’t receive audio from your instrument.

Audio From

You should now be all set to send MIDI from Live to your instrument, and receive audio from your instrument.  Now you can edit MIDI in Live, and the instrument will respond accordingly.

From here, you basically want to add Method #1 to this process. Open up a new Audio track, and select the input that your instrument is going in to. Make sure your MIDI track with the data to be sent to your instrument is enabled. Now, hit record and wait. By the end, you will have an audio track that has all of the corresponding MIDI changes that you sent to the instrument (notes, filter cutoffs, etc.). You can now disable (or delete) your original MIDI track.

You can, of course, combine both methods by slicing and moving around audio that you obtained from Method #2, making your productions even more cool and out there.

If you are interesting in learning how to use Ableton, and how to use hardware to make music, take a look at our master program. On top of Ableton and Synthesis, we also teach DJing with Serato. Email me today and we’ll get started.

Leap Motion's Music Apps


Leap Motion launched its highly anticipated motion control technology this past month. Well what is the Leap Motion controller? It’s a small USB device which plugs into a Mac or Windows computer and can detect gestures. The Leap Motion Controller senses how you move your hands the way you naturally move them.

Out of the 75 apps in the AirSpace Store, 14 of them are music apps. Check out a couple of them below:


OctoRhythm is a reaction-based rhythm game developed with the Leap Motion Controller in mind. Immerse yourself in 4 captivating game modes, Memorize symbols in sequence and repeat (or defeat) each gesture to a pulse-pounding background beat for $2.99.


Dropchord is a music-driven, score challenge game with mesmerizing visuals and an original electronic soundtrack for $2.99.


OscilloScoop enables you to make musical magic by gliding your fingertips over spinning crowns, creating real-time electronic music. It gives you the tools DJs and electronic musicians use to create intricate grooves also for $2.99.


AirBeats captures your natural “air drumming” movements, allowing you to make amazing beats in the styles of Hip Hop, Dubstep, Trance, and more for $4.99.


Lotus consists of a collection of interactive musical toys which harnesses the creative power of the Leap Motion Controller. Each musical toy features a fresh, unique way for the user to dynamically create music using gesture controls. Oh and this App is FREE!

Click here to check out the rest of the apps!