Awesomely Techno-weird Musical Instruments Part 1 #TuesdayTunes

First, let me greet you with this one:

LOL!!! I know, I know, the whole thing leaves a lot to be desired. But what can you expect from an AI writing (and singing!) Christmas songs???

To write the song, the researchers first had the computer produce a story about the festive image. Then, they selected a rhythm of one beat per word, linked the endings of sentences to the endings of the music’s bars, and tuned it so that the vocals would occur in a “natural” pitch range, the scientists said. The neural network then took the song to completion.”

Sadly, you can’t add actual talent to AI, just memory, even if this is the newest innovation. Not yet, anyway. We need more innovative technology for that.

Speaking (playing?) of technology, check out the “untouchable music of the theremin”. I never heard of the theremin until I chanced upon this on TED Talks. Here,

Virtuoso Pamelia Kurstin performs and discusses her theremin, the not-just-for-sci-fi electronic instrument that is played without being touched. Songs include ‘Autumn Leaves,’ ‘Lush Life’ and David Mash’s ‘Listen, Words Are Gone.’ ”

I enjoyed this talk. Part of it was because the theremin was interesting, part of it was because I was in awe of Pamelia’s talent and I loved the music, and still another part of it was because Pamelia was charming in her shy, giggly way. She started off nervously, and actually seemed nervous all throughout, but she made up for it with her anecdotes and funny little jokes. Love her already. Well, this was filmed way back in 2002, but who cares? Oh, and she does not anymore carry the last name Kurstin (from her former marriage), so call her by her birth name Pamelia Stickney.

And while we’re talking technology, who knows it best (my opinion) than Japan? Just ask Maywa Denki…Okay, I’m not really sure what they’re going to say, but these guys are taking technology and music to a funn(i)er level.

Although Maywa Denki is known and appreciated as an artist, its promotion strategies are full of variety: exhibition, live stages, performances, producing music, videos, writing, merchandising toys, stationery, and electric devices.”

The two-men team of Tosa brothers Masamichi and Novmichi are responsible for some of the most fun instruments around. I like them because this is also the way I create sounds when I’m in the mood–I try stuff. I like them more because funny aside, they are actually inventors and have musical abilities themselves, it seems.

Two of the stuff these crazy inventors made:

The popular but absurd otamatone (that’s the funny Novmichi presenting). I want one for the kids! (and me!)

Check out the cute Otamatone Melody, hee hee…

My favorite, so far, because I love beats, Mr. Knocky

They have more inventions so just check out their site. Meanwhile, here’s a cheery little Christmas song. Guess the song 😉

Okay, now we go classic. We’ve got the barrel organ. I still call this “technology” as every generation has its own technology, regardless of whether they’re new or innovated.

The basic principle is the same as a traditional pipe organ, but rather than being played by an organist, the barrel organ is activated either by a person turning a crank, or by clockwork driven by weights or springs. The pieces of music are encoded onto wooden barrels (or cylinders), which are analogous to the keyboard of the traditional pipe organ.”

I find the barrel organ quite interesting, innovative, and judging from this Patrick Mathis tribute to the King of Pop, quite hip despite its history. Trust me, you’ll love this video…

Lastly, for today, we’ve got a truly fantastic instrument called the Marble Machine from Wintergatan. It’s not so much the music that interests me here,  but how the machine was awesomely created by Martin Molin. Such creativity and precision!

Martin explains how he thought of this mechanical-slash-musical instrument: Martin Molin tells all on his Marble Machine. His marble machine is said to be not the first of its kind, nevertheless, what a marvelous invention!


I know you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Love you, guys!!!

Listening with Your Soul #TuesdayTunes

It’s amazing, isn’t it? You’d think great musicians grew up all normal but with exceptional musical abilities. But in actuality, a lot of them have impairments that could have stopped them from becoming great. Beethoven was deaf and is an excellent example of how anyone can overcome such a grave challenge and, in fact, use it for the better. Boy, did he use it! Eric Clapton, Sting and Bono? Also hearing-impaired.  Andreas Bocelli, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles? All blind.

It’s like wonderful armless painters who have found a way to use their mouths and feet,  painting their obra maestras. It’s like Stephen Hawking using his genius mind over his physical matters. Or how about Nick Vujicic? No arms, no legs, no problem. He’s become one of the most influential life speakers of today…

Oh, but here,  we go back to music. I thought I’d share this TED Talks session to you (I told you I like TED Talks).

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.

It’s a very enlightening and entertaining talk. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it and her, too. I wish I could actually see this wonderful artist perform!


Hope you guys enjoyed that and learned a thing or two. If you have similar talks to share, please share. I love listening to stories of triumph like this 🙂


Spot the Difference #atozchallenge2014

We like to think that we’re all good people, right? Until we are faced with those who are different. How do we react? Do we think they can’t do stuff at all? Do we discriminate?…We do this because we like to think we are better. Not so good of us, is it?

We often call them disabled. The right, more politically correct term nowadays would be DIFFERENTLY ABLED. Or the more accepted term Persons with Disability (PWDs). I personally don’t think the word “disabled” is derogatory or discriminatory, but because a lot of people have made it seem so, I believe that “Differently Abled” and “PWD” are, really, more correct.

They only have abilities different from ours, the supposedly “abled” people, but it doesn’t mean they cannot do anything. In fact, there are lots of them who proved themselves to be quite able in things that we aren’t or can’t do ourselves physically or mentally.


Nick Vujicic doing what he does best, motivational speaking

Like Australian Christian Evangelist Nick Vujicic who was born without all the four limbs we all too often take for granted (he is the founder of the non-profit organization Life without Limbs, by the way). You don’t need to be a Christian to be able to understand him, even relate to him one way or another. He is a motivational speaker and when he speaks, you can’t help but think, oh yeah, he’s so right-on. He’s very funny and entertaining, too. And he can swim.

Now here I am. I am not sure if I have ever positively motivated anyone, I have stage fright that I can’t even be funny onstage, and I can’t swim to save my life! It’s not to downplay my own abilities. I’m just saying he’s just differently abled from myself. Given my own lack of talent in certain things, I guess I — all of us — can be considered differently abled as well, depending on what aspects.

It just makes me think that if we were all able to do the same things, life would either be too boring or we’d all be chaotically (is there such a word?) scrambling to try to be the best when no one can really be the best. And it makes me think that if Nick was born quite normal by our standards, I wonder how many people he could’ve inspired. Chances are, not as many as he has actually inspired today, with no limbs and all. He’s got many vids in the YouTube-sphere, so if you want to understand what I mean and see him in action, try to check them out.

We can really cite various other inspirational people who have proved that disability is not a factor in failure or success. One just has to find the right thing for himself/herself.

In fact here’s another wonderfully different person whose TEDx talk inspired me recently and who actually inspired this topic. She is Maysoon Zayid, an Arab-American born with cerebral palsy and, thankfully, a very good sense of humor. I just found out about her and reading about her credentials, especially her advocacy work, I am already impressed. I like her already!

To Nick, Maysoon and those others fighting the good fight, I salute you! Long live!



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