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August 12, 2009 1:06 PM   Subscribe

The Humanthesizer. Calvin Harris is promoting his new single by using a type of skin-safe conductive ink to "play" his song with the assistance of, ah, several assistants.

One might question as to whether this is a new type of musical instrument or something else entirely.
posted by Halloween Jack (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The High Contrast remix of this song is SOOOOO AMAZING.

Just thought I'd let you all know.
posted by empath at 1:08 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


So the key to making your geeky electronics project a viral hit is to add girls in bikinis. Duly noted, Mr. Harris.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 1:11 PM on August 12, 2009


I like them tall girls
I like them short girls
I like them brown hair girls
I like them blonde hair girls
I like them big girls
I like them skinny girls
I like them covered in conductive ink girls
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:17 PM on August 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Ready For The Weekend" is the best dance single (to me) since Teh Juan Maclean's "Happy House" last year.

I have literally (and yes, I am using the word correctly this time) listened to it via YouTube like 5 dozen times.

Absolutely infectious. Fully 1990 housetastic chorus.

Also this humanthesizer is pretty fresh.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:56 PM on August 12, 2009


Pah, it's been done.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 2:02 PM on August 12, 2009


I wanted to hate this, because he basically put triggers on girls, but it's actually pretty awesome.

Nevertheless, I cannot let my prepared snark go unstated (even if I don't feel as snarky after catching the fever, as it were):

You know, I actually play an instrument that works pretty much the same as that one. I hold in my hands this thing that has wires all over it, which are conductive and electrified. It also has magnets mounted on it. When I touch the electrified wires, they interact with the magnetic fields and create an electrical signal that can then be translated into sound (or "synthesized" if you like) - and the whole thing depends entirely on how I do or don't touch these electrified wires that are all over this thing I'm holding. It's really avant-garde. It can even be used to trigger samples or a synthesizer. Also, it's sort of curvy. And it has a body, neck, head, and heel. Unlike Calvin Harris' instrument, however, the one I play has a nut.
posted by The World Famous at 2:11 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's really more of a human Midi Controller.
posted by delmoi at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else has only one nut?
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:26 PM on August 12, 2009


Reactable is sort of the same thing but without the bikini-clad women.

They also provide you most of what would be required to build one yourself. Not step-by-step instructions but a general outline of the materials needed and the source code.

http://reactivision.sourceforge.net/
http://www.tuio.org/?software
posted by prak at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2009


Don't all instrument players use their bodies to play?

Also, what about those guys who direct orchestras?

(I do like musical pattycake, though.)
posted by Pronoiac at 2:31 PM on August 12, 2009


Also, what about those guys who direct orchestras?

They're just dancing for the entertainment of the audience.
posted by The World Famous at 2:32 PM on August 12, 2009


"with the assistance of, ah, several assistants."


Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Euphamism! Sexism! Woo!
posted by oddman at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2009


Wow, he really does get all the girls.

(I'm disappointed that he just plays them...)

Thanks Folks, I'll be here all night!
posted by djrock3k at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2009


I'm playing my instrument right now, ho ho ho!

What? What I say?
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2009


For those of you that don't get the girls reference:

Girls

No I'm not linking to the original mix. All his stuff is better remixed.
posted by empath at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2009


Btw, if you're going to link to robert palmer, the link should have said: This was kind of thing was more acceptable in the 80s.
posted by empath at 4:22 PM on August 12, 2009


When I saw all those girls I thought "No! He wouldn't!"

Then they showed him just patting their hands and I was both relieved and mildly disappointed.
posted by orme at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's really more of a human Midi Controller.

Remind me not to give you that marketing job.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:03 PM on August 12, 2009


Wow... that's a cheesy song. A good song would probably sound good with this silly uninteresting technique, but this bad song would sound bad even if the Boston Symphony played it.
posted by tmcw at 6:14 PM on August 12, 2009


For those wanting to hear the actual song, here's a "band" "playing" the "song".
posted by tmcw at 6:18 PM on August 12, 2009


It always fascinates me to see how EDM people 'perform' their songs that were all originally done on a computer with samplers and soft-synths.
posted by empath at 7:16 PM on August 12, 2009


If it can be played by humans with "live" "instruments" I think I consider it cheating... from an electronic music perspective.

I do have to admit that the body-paint-electrodes is a super neat idea. However, the implementation in the OP is....... lacking. I was really hoping for some interpretive dance with a fuzzy logic controller/sequencer that fed in on itself. So that the dancers would begin to create a simple beat on the pads, the sequencer would fill in a little melody to encourage the use of different pads (perhaps also by lighting up strings of LEDs around particular pads). And as the dancers respond to the music, pressing still other pads everything might get more chaotic, or ordered. I don't know. That would be the experiment I would like to see!
posted by Severian at 9:05 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, not a synth. A midi controller at the most, and it quantizes input at that. That is the reason he can get away with the dancers triggering the samples, they can pretty pretty inexact and still sound in time.

Basically it's a conductive pad routed thru an Arduino to Max and then that input is routed to Live where it is quantized and the samples of his song are triggered (played.) Not a "human" synth because the waveforms aren't actually generated by the human machine - that would be a trick.

Conductive midi controllers have been around for awhile (here's the newest neat one), and this application is only really noteworthy for the conductive paint.

Empath's observation on the translation from a computer performance into a live venue performance is the reason this was really done - to make a performance more stage worthy, otherwise, the dude is just standing on a stage staring at his computer screen, pounding on some midi controllers and twiddling knobs. While it's exciting once to see, this is a one trick pony, that will never really be used again. Which is kind of sad, it would be nice to have a new performance style break thru for electronic based music.
posted by bigmusic at 9:13 PM on August 12, 2009


The original song feels like a Kidz Bop version of any New Order song. The video.. is SNL back from summer holiday?
posted by xorry at 9:15 PM on August 12, 2009


Are these going to be the new Radium Girls? Probably not, that's just what it reminded me of.
posted by mike_bling at 9:55 PM on August 12, 2009


This post made me reminisce about Front 242 and Electronic Body Music.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:09 AM on August 13, 2009


to make a performance more stage worthy, otherwise, the dude is just standing on a stage staring at his computer screen, pounding on some midi controllers and twiddling knobs.

Calvin Harris already seems pretty stage-worthy
posted by minifigs at 1:38 AM on August 13, 2009


I liked that one, minifigs. Put me in mind of ABC, which is not a bad thing.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 8:55 AM on August 13, 2009


It's really a rip off of late 90s trance, though.

Compare: Ferry Corsten's remix of Art of Trance - Madagascar (linked directly to main riff)

To the main riff of Not Alone
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2009


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