Musical Trains
October 10, 2013 7:51 PM   Subscribe

A Robot Train That Lets You Write Music With Magic Markers: "... much of Suzuki's work focuses on new ways to visualize music. Looks Like Music is his new project, an alternative to standardized Western musical notation synesthetic enough for even dyslexics to understand. Even cooler? It's music notation done with robots." posted by fever-trees (7 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
As I watch the video and try to comprehend it, I realize that there is no excuse whatsoever for me as a mostly able-bodied person not to study music as a hobbyist. I'm also another crazy synaesthete and I want to do what he's doing!... but in lieu of that, perhaps I should actually pick up my electric guitar and practice?

inspired by musicians such as Yellow Magic Orchestra, Devo, and Kraftwerk

Gotta admit, he's off to a good start. Now I want to hear more.

If anyone could explain what he's doing in simple terms, I'd love to understand. I'd love to try to replicate it myself, actually, if I have the space when I move... ahem. Anyhow, this is more proof of my homegrown theory that music is, or should be, a religion in and of itself.
posted by quiet earth at 12:57 AM on October 11, 2013

Why, oh why, is this not available-for-sale right now?
posted by sourwookie at 6:02 AM on October 11, 2013

If anyone could explain what he's doing in simple terms

Well presumably there's a little 4 armed demon on a pedalcycle inside the box who looks down through a lens and he uses 2 of his arms to steer along the black line and the 2 other arms to play a kind of colour coded xylophone/violin.

I think these robots are a great metaphor. When we buy into the concept of reading we win so much and at the same time turn part of us into these robots, stuck along a line.
posted by yoHighness at 6:24 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also anecdotally, I have given colour coded sheet music and a colour coded keyboard to a dyspraxic child who has a hard time reading the stave and they were playing off the sheet within seconds. I didn't even have to explain it.
posted by yoHighness at 6:27 AM on October 11, 2013

Things like this make me doubt the wisdom of killing all humans.
posted by gamera at 9:44 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

So imagine a skill that currently some of us have, say oboe playing, and some of us don't, suddenly acquires a strong economical significance. Oboe players suddenly find ways to get the money and the girl/guy and ride off into the sunset. We would begin to reshape our notion of normal with a strong bias towards those that are so gifted. Which is a bit rough on the rest of us. Reading is like that. It is an odd skill that contingently acquired great socio-economic value. Anything that can grant some of the same benefits without demanding the same quirky mastery of sequences of fine black marks would be great!
posted by stonepharisee at 10:55 AM on October 11, 2013

Quiet Earth- The mechanical part appears to be a simple robot that follows a black line. I know nothing about that part. The sensor is also looking at the darkness of the other marker colors. The darker the color, the lower the tone (according to the article). Each robot has a different sound: one sounds kind of beepy, another more stringy.

Its probably not much different than the way Nodebeat functions (a cheap ios and android app that can also be used for free on a windows machine). The colors are essentially translated into a subset of piano keys so that it sounds relatively consonant.

Using these as toys a la a children's museum is pretty cool, but I'd also love to see them try to recreate simple pieces of minimalism, with different length tracks and colored markers that cross through the different tracks. That'd be awesome.
posted by lownote at 8:06 AM on October 12, 2013

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