Make business fun with these MIDI instrument business cards

Patrick Bateman thought he was jealous of an Eggshell business card, wait until he sees these business cards acting as a MIDI instrument.

Business cards are made to sell yourself or your services, and people try to make theirs unique to draw in interest. Some opt for making them as classy as possible, some try to make them look funky, and some cards are designed to be played with and none more than these MIDI business cards.

Tim Alex Jacobs is the man behind the MIDI-stylophone business card which is made up of a printed circuit board that can be used as a MIDI instrument. Now the technology is cheap enough and capable a variety of electronic business cards have been made but Jacobs says with his: “A couple of years ago I took a stab at making one for myself, but I didn’t want it to be pointless.”

Jacobs doesn’t remember how the idea for creating a MIDI-stylophone came to his head but the idea resonated with him and he set about making it reality. The card has a miniature keyboard allowing you to play it as an instrument and can be read using an analog-to-digital converter with a resistor ladder along the keyboard. Jacobs used this method so that it wouldn’t require anything larger than an ATtiny85 for the full range of 20 notes.

The cards are cheap enough to make that, if your selective with who you hand them out to they won’t drain your funds. Jacobs says they ended up costing roughly $3 each. It was made with a snappable section which can be re-soldered onto the USB corner making it thick enough to stick into the USB without having to make the entire business card bulky.

Jacobs’ final design with an immersion gold finish to sex it up a bit looks amazing beyond the fact it’s such a unique card. It’s sure to make any potential customers or partners look at you twice and at the very least they’re going to have some fun with it.

You can find out more about how he did it here: mitxela.com/projects/stylocard

Making music is simple and fun with Google’s Song Maker

A fun new song maker takes songwriting back to it’s basics so anyone young and old, novice or experienced can make music in their browser.

Google just launched the latest app in their Chrome Music Lab experiments which are helping to make learning music accessible and fun. Song Maker is their newest hands-on experiment which takes music down to it’s basics with a drum line and a instrument line helping to teach the core of a rhythm and melody.

The in-browser app presents a simple template with a kick and snare line at the bottom and a 2 octave blank canvas above. It works on a 16 bar loop with 2 beats per bar so that users can simply input a drum line and some notes and see how they sound and refine it to how they want it to sound.

The 2 octave range allows you only to put in natural notes, so it’s a lot easier to sound “right”. But whilst you can’t make complex melodies with the 7 note scale you can still have some fun with chords. Once you’ve made a song you can share it straightaway with friends via a link.

You have the option to choose which drum sounds you want from an ‘Electronic’ drum machine sound, ‘Blocks’, a drum ‘Kit’ sound, and a ‘Conga’ sound. Likewise for the instrument you can choose between a ‘Marimba’, ‘Piano’, ‘Strings’, ‘Woodwind’, and ‘Synth’.

Google launched Song Maker as part of ‘Music In Our Schools Month‘, an initiative launched in 1985 to push learning music and getting creative to children in exciting new ways. You can play it in your web browser right now for free with no installs – just start playing. It even works on phones and tablets too.

Start making some music with Song Maker: musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Song-Maker

The 100 most sampled tracks in music history

Sampling music is an art-form in it’s own right and it’s everywhere nowadays. This Spotify playlist features all of the most used songs in sampling history.

Samples are used everywhere in music today: in Hip-Hop, dance music, pop, even rock music will make use of other musical works. Whilst there’s no boundaries (except legal ones) to what can be chopped, screwed, and manipulated in a new way – there are a number of tracks that appear across hundreds of tracks thanks to a unique drum line or a sexy bass riff that can be used and reworked endlessly.

Reddit user sooryuken has compiled the top 100 sampled songs into a killer Spotify playlist that shows music inspiration from all kinds of places. They sourced the top sampled tracks from WhoSampled, an amazing website dedicated to sourcing samples that have been used in a track or where a track has been sampled. Unfortunately Spotify didn’t have all 100 of their top sampled songs but 92/100 is a pretty good ratio.

Speaking on HipHopHeads where sooryuken posted his playlist, they said: “I’m constantly making all kinds of playlists. This felt “perfect”/complete enough to share so I did haha … I’ll also probably make a playlist later based on this but more suited for background listening.”

The legendary 808 drum machine is free in your web browser

Roland TR-808’s defined drum machines when they launched and you can play with one for free, right in your web browser.

The power of technology combined with the vast reach of the internet never fails to amaze us, every single day. This free to use 808 drum machine, faithfully recreated within a website, is yet another reason why we love living in the 21st century.

Software engineer Vincent Riemer created and developed iO-808 back in 2016, stemming from a fascination with Roland’s original, groundbreaking drum machine. He says: “As an amateur/bedroom music producer I’ve always been fascinated with the impact and history of the TR-808.”

Riemer goes on to say how it began as a challenge to recreate the 808’s iconic sounds to learn the new Web Audio API. He continued: “It became addicting and once I had most of the sounds done, I figured recreating the interface/functionality was the next logical step. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it!”

Every sound is synthesised using the Web Audio API, no samples are used. This means that the sounds aren’t all perfect replications, but the build is amazing. Going to the website you will instantly recognise the notorious brown and orange design of the drum machine, and all of it’s functions are there to play with and mess around on.

Give it a go for yourself, head to: io808.com

You might want a look at the tutorial, especially if you’re new to drum machines: io808.com/tutorial

Watch this amazing marble & magnet maze perfectly synced to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers’

You thought Edvard Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ on Line Rider was good, wait until you see this crazy marble, magnet course set to Tchaikovsky.

YouTube user DoodleChaos has created a piece of art, a landmark in history, and just something very special. Using marbles, magnets and god knows how much time they have created this incredible magnet course that syncs up perfectly with Waltz of the Flowers by Russian classical composer Tchaikovsky.

They say in the description:

I’ve taken the piece ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ by Tchakovsky, and synchronised it to a chain reaction marble run by hand. After listening to parts of this song hundreds of times to match things up I went a bit crazy.

Enter the world of MIDI art, illustrations made from music

Art is almost limitless in it’s potential, any piece of it fabricated from nothing. Now people are testing the boundaries of art by creating pictures with MIDI.

Blending two art forms is nothing new, visuals have long accompanied music for further effect from the theatre to MTV. A bunch of imaginative creatives have brought that fusion to the 21st century with MIDI art.

What’s MIDI art? Here’s a musical unicorn that should clear things up:

That’s Andrew Huang’s take on a picture made from MIDI notes. Whilst it may seem just like a basic form of pixel art that can be played musically the beauty of MIDI art is in creating a musical piece that actually works as well as creates a shape.

Andrew Huang’s piece was inspired by Savant who, as far as I know, is the pioneer of MIDI art. Savant’s pieces take the project even further with a sense of beauty behind the process. Savant’s Bird in the Rain piece is easily my favourite with a rising progression that says bird flight to me. The picture is also pretty good for a MIDI piece:

Savant’s collection is limited but wonderful and can all be found on his Facebook page. The inspiration for MIDI art goes back all the way to the Classical period. Beethoven modelled his 5th symphony on the sound of a Yellowhammer bird and Mozart was inspired by pigeons for the opening to one of his pieces. Savant just took that aural representation to another level.

Andrew Huang, the talented YouTube music man who created the unicorn video, has a great video on MIDI art and how he went about creating the unicorn in midi.

The world of MIDI art is an unfortunately scarce but infinitely wholesome source of entertainment. And of course there’s a Shrek MIDI art piece that sounds like All Star by Smash Mouth.

You can now buy makeup on Spotify, yes – makeup

Spotify have explored a lot of different areas with their music streaming service, but makeup is one we did NOT see coming.

Singer Maggie Lindemann is making use of her Merch section on Spotify offering a first-of-it’s kind for the platform. You’d think Spotify would be synonymous with music, but apparently it’s now also a digital Boots – you don’t need to leave your house to buy makeup anymore, now you don’t even have to leave music streaming.

American pop-singer Maggie Lindemann has teamed up with famous makeup artist Pat McGrath to offer a new line of makeup. The range offers 5 different Maggie branded products; 2 eye pencils, 2 eye shadow palettes and 1 liquid lipstick. The two have aligned with McGrath’s ‘So Obsessed’ line launching close to Maggie’s single Obsessed, which will release on the 17th this Friday.

McGrath spoke on experimenting with new platforms, saying: “I’m obsessed with technology. Since the very beginning, t’s been [our] mission to use social media in groundbreaking new ways. We launch our products via social media, we’ve found our most legendary #McGrathMuses via Instagram, and now we’re delving into creative collaborations via Spotify.

Spotify maggie lindemann pat mcgrath makeup merch artist page

“Social media has changed everything. It’s given consumers the most powerful voice they’ve ever had, and it’s connected makeup addicts with makeup artists in a way that’s never existed before. Makeup junkies are no longer a hidden subculture. We’re boldly on display, disrupting expectations and expressing radical individuality.”

Hmmmm, okay McGrath I’m not sure that selling overpriced makeup is much of a cultural shakeup but you do you. Lindemann agrees however stating that she shares her passion for “creative expression and art”. She went on to say: “I’ve admired Pat’s work for runway, red carpet and editorial for years. I have so much respect for her.”

I personally can’t see makeup on Spotify being a big drawing point but assuming her audience is right anything is possible in the digital age. If you want some head to Maggie Lindemann’s artist page now and check under Merch.

Remix Pharrell Williams top hits and beats in ROLI’s free app

ROLI are bringing one of the world’s hottest producers to their free app to remix hits like ‘Happy’ using their awesome devices.

The creators behind the incredible expressive keyboards ‘Seaboards’ and more recently the fascinating BLOCKS devices, ROLI are back with some Pharrell for you. Through their free NOISE app ROLI have launched a unique soundpack that deconstructs Pharrell beats for you to build up again.

‘Lemon by N.E.R.D.’ is the Studiopack which takes all the vital elements from Pharrell William’s new band’s track ‘Lemon’ and transforms them into easily manipulated sounds and elements. Using the pack in ROLI’s free NOISE app music makers can play with the band’s high quality sounds and mould it into new soundscapes.

Lemon is N.E.R.D.’s first song in 7 years by the supergroup made up of Chad Hugo, Shay Hayley, and of course Pharrell Williams. The song, released on the first of this month features Rihanna hitting up the vocals with a rap flow on the groups bouncy and bass-heavy track.

On a Pharrell kick lately, ROLI also recently released a NOISE Studiopack of ‘Happy’ the number one hit that radios couldn’t get enough of. Inside the pack are the beats, basslines, and Pharrell’s vocals to be manipulated, remixed and recreated.

There’s a reason ROLI are giving lots of love to Pharrell and that’s because he’s given a lot of love to them. In fact on the 28th October Pharrell was appointed ROLI’s Chief Creative Officer. Together they plan a long partnership of innovation in developing revolutionary music equipment, something ROLI have been doing for years now.

ROLI’s new CCO has even invested into the company although ROLI say reports suggesting Pharrell is now a co-owner are untrue. According to the BBC, ROLI founder Roland Lamb met Pharrell when he reached out on a trip to Los Angeles and says he will have a real influence on the company’s development. Lamb said they bonded over making music more accessible to non-musicians, in particular children.

Lamb said: “When we met it felt like we were on the same page… The ‘Happy by Pharrell’ and ‘Lemon by N.E.R.D.’ Studiopacks are just the beginning of our exciting work with Pharrell and other artists.”

You can download NOISE for free for iPhone and Android now and start playing with the free sound packs.

Will.I.Am has another stupid endeavour; this time a Siri and Alexa rival

Will.I.Am won’t quit with his ridiculous attempts at innovation and now he’s taking on the biggest tech companies in the world with his own voice powered AI.

Did you know that ex-Black Eyed Pea Will.I.Am has his own tech startup called I.am+? If not probably because it’s a ridiculous attempt at entrepreneurship that has resulted in very little. If so then this news probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you.

Despite all the odds Will.I.Am has somehow managed to secure a big sum of $117 million in funding for his new voice assistant according to a report by Reuters. Why anyone would want to fund I.am+ following multiple failures and criticisms of their past tech is beyond me, but they have. According to the report a majority of the investment ($89 million) was raised in a funding round in March by an investment group including Salesforce Ventures.

Will.I.Am’s aim is to create another voice assistant in what has quickly become a saturated market with options from Amazon (Alexa), Google (Assistant), Apple (Siri), and others. Speaking on his new product he said: “I wanted to create something that allows us to do many things. There’s so much you can do with a voice platform.”

Will.I.Am’s voice assistant, called Omega, will see its first use with German telecommunications company and parent of T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom AG. According to Reuters’ report they have been using Omega since July this year to power an automated customer support bot with plans to add voice integration soon. So at least someone takes it seriously, whether they can grow from here to an established technology though is anyone’s guess.

I.am+ has been all about creating ‘wearable’ tech with fashion in mind and is now a company employing around 300 people (somehow). If that were something anyone really seemed worried about then it could have been successful, but just look at Apple’s ugly Airpods. The fact is what people really want is quality builds from trusted brands or innovative startups not a rapper-cum-popstar-cum-developer. It seems they got the message and moved away from fashion, but I don’t think that jumping on a bandwagon is the way to create success.

Gibson’s new Les Paul’s might make you throw up, twice when you see the price

Gibson have revealed a new range of Les Paul’s with a “fun and functional” design… But with a $5000 price tag a better fu- description is ‘f**king ridiculous’!

Gibson have cemented themselves as legends in guitar history many times over. Les Pauls are undoubtedly a staple in the world of guitar and have influenced many before and many to come. So this new range seems like an insult to real guitarists with gimmick written all over it.

The new Custom “Axcess” Les Paul range brings a bunch of horrible neon colour designs on to their guitars for when you want to look like you’re playing a big piece of candy. That said a couple of the colours look pretty cool, I wouldn’t say no to an orange pinstripe LP, at a price of $4,899 you can throw any chance of purchase out of the window.

Fair enough, a really nice guitar by a top brand will cost a fair chunk of money – but when it’s a gimmicky range based around appearance more than performance that’s a ridiculous price. In an age when independent manufacturers are pumping out amazing guitars for less than $1000, even competitors like Fender, it’s hard to see this as anything but Gibson using brand name for sales.

Gibson are already facing backlash from their new range, on Facebook a fan wrote: “Dear Gibson Board Of Directors: Please stop all further capex expenditure requests related to new product development and utilize your budgeted spending towards real market research to define customer wants and needs.
Gimmick devices such as robo-tuners and neon tops are not what the real Gibson reputation is built on.
The Gibson name brand has such an incredible history, we all want to see it continue!”

Another user agreed that despite actually liking the colours the cost was too much, saying: “I’m in the minority here because I like the flashy colors and the Floyd so if I can put that together with my Les Paul fix, I’d be good with that. HOWEVER, being a $4900 custom shop means forget about it for me and I’m sure too many others like me for this to be a worthwhile venture for Gibson.”

If you want to look into the guitars further you can head to their website page but I warn you, the specs will only make you sigh: www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/2017/Custom/Neon-Modern-Les-Paul-Axcess-Custom.aspx