Here I’m going to introduce you to 4 music technologies in particular that have already begun to change the music landscape as we know it. Let’s get right into it.
First we have Percussa’s Audio Cubes. They’re some of the coolest new music making “instruments” out right now. Here’s how they work, straight from Percussa’s website:
“Each AudioCube is identical. You connect them with a USB cable to your computer, one after the other, and assign a colour and behaviour. After that, they work wirelessly with each other, and use their four onboard infrared sensors to communicate and measure distances to objects nearby. One cube stays connected, to pass the information from the cubes to the software on your computer.” More Here.
These audio cubes show the potential of injecting computer age technology into our musical instruments and compositions. There are literally limitless configurations for a kind of instrument like this. Depending on how many you have and how you arrange them, you could end up creating something that’s never been possible to create with one person before. It seems as though our music making tools are becoming as dynamic and inventive as the music itself, and I think that this kind of evolution of the instruments could eventually lead to further evolution of music. This is a very cool thing.
The second amazing technology isn’t really a new concept. It’s actually been around for about a decade now, but you probably haven’t heard of it too much. It’s called hypersonic sound. Basically it uses speakers that can focus sound down into a tight beam, almost like a Maglite focuses light, and you can only hear the sound when your ears walk across that beam. You could be right next to it and not hear it at all unless your ear was in the beam. This is cool for all sorts of things…blasting music late at night, on the bus, in an airplane, in your office, at a library, ect..without disturbing anybody else. You could even have separate volume levels for different people in your house when watching TV.
What’s really cool about this technology is how it works. You could be at a concert and the sound for the person in the very back would be exactly the same as the person in the front row, because of how the sound is actually generated. It is an incredibly versatile technology. Check out this video to hear the inventor explain how it actually works.
Hypersonic sound integration, I believe, will become common place in the next 10-15 years. It’s uses and benefits are almost too much to count. This invention definitely shows how one idea can change the landscape of an industry considerably, and for the better.
This next technology isn’t actually a product or service itself, but more like a category of products and services that have sprung up recently. These are the music meta-data collectors like EcoNest and MusicBrainz that actually scan the internet and their own communities for meta data about songs, including various music qualities and even what blogs and tweets are saying about the music, and then they provide a very cool API that allows other music software developers to use their databases to enhance things like similar song requests or song recommendations in their own software.
This kind of technology, available to any music software developer, is capable of allowing developers to create more complex and effective software, without them having to spend the time to figure out how to get this kind of data, which also allows more time for other cool stuff like visualizations or something. It will be very interesting to see this kind of technology progress, and to see which service really provides the best form of music meta-data collection. As of right now, it is far too early to tell, but this kind of technology is already shaping how we listen to music.
The last technology is a new all touch DJ platform from Stanton called the SCS.3m. I’ve actually had the pleasure of using one of these things and it is extremely versatile in its functionality and very addicting. It’s main touch decks are the round disks, that can be switched between 3 modes: Fader Mode, Button Mode, and Vinyl Mode. Depending which mode you’re in, the disk acts differently. For example, in Fader mode, you have 3 faders that you can set to any parameter. Same thing for the buttons in Button mode, and in Vinyl mode the disk acts like a real turntable. Looping is also made incredibly easy by allowing you to create loops of different lengths and at different points in the song, with a simple click on the control surface, while mixing seamlessly with another track playing on the other deck.
The SCS.3m works with a DJ program called Traktor where you can access whole libraries of music and then control them in a number of ways right from the control surface. The surface itself weighs maybe 5 lbs, and offers a ton of customizable effect faders and other cool tools to help you mold your sound, whether it’s a live performance or for a recording. This kind of technology, that fits so much versatility into such a small package, will begin to change the way music is made, allowing music to be played around with much more easily and by anybody, without much prior knowledge, and as the prices of this technology go down, I envision it could convert a lot more music-curious people into full fledged music creators. This is a very quickly growing trend. More info here.
As these 4 examples have shown, music technology is beginning to re-shape not just the music itself, but people and society as well, in allowing new opportunities, and new experiences that were never possible before. The landscape is getting richer everyday, from this respect. Now the only thing that needs the same kind of innovation is the way that artists are able to promote and distribute their music, without label assistance. I’ll just stop there because I could go on for days about that, but I do have my own solutions. Check them out here if you’re interested.
If you think you’ve learned all there is to know about something…I’ll show you the technology that’ll make you start all over again. It’s a beautiful thing.
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC