Baffling (but cute) synth-in-your-pocket

Sure, you can take a decent in-focus picture of anything (particularly anything with a blue LED on it) and it will look cool, but... goddamn! This is a Chiclet - a pocket-sized digital music-making box that runs for ten hours on two AA batteries. It's been in development by a group of MIT Media Lab types since 2002. The thing is, it's totally baffling. I've read most of this site, and this site, and I really don't understand it. One of the programmers, Ethan Bordeaux, had a paper published called: "Implementation of a Modern Adaptive Multirate (AMR) Codec for Cellular Systems Using a Multicore DSP". The one bit that sounds really interesting is this: They're planning to mass-produce the boxes, but rather than selling them to musicians (who'd want customer support, usable software etc), they want to sell them in record shops, programmed with their own musical alogrithms, as a kind of self-contained music generating box. So... as with all these things, it all goes back to Raymond Scott who in 1967 launched the Fascination and the Participator - two ambient music boxes which generated background music for your house.

I remember seeing this a while ago, did a search for DIY DSP and this came up, the way i saw it it was abit like the soundart chameleon thing, some sort of user reconfigurable synth/effects unit controllable by software run on a palm pilot
met ethan, and heard chiclet, at synth-diy cambridge last year and i have to say .. bleh .. not really much of a musical instrument, more of an excuse for a bunch of lazy MIT types with boring jobs to not be writing code for 'the man'.

the borg should not be making musical instruments... three words: poor parameter control!
I have to disagree with Jay slightly. I also met Ethan at SynthDIY - pretty intense geek, but then SDIY makes me question my own true geek status at the best of times! Anyway, having picked up the Chiclet mini demo CD and eventually getting round to listening to it at home, I have to say I do really like the music this thing produces. It certainly seems geared more towards IDM / minimal electronica styles of music, so won't be busting out the latest pop anthems anytime soon (this is a good thing in my book), but shouldn't be written off just yet.

I have no idea how to program it, and even Ethan was having trouble (with interesting results) on the day, but after listening to the CD I was left with the impression that it's actually quite a cool sounding little box, given the right musical geeks programming it to be that.

You wouldn't want to listen to it all day, but I think it certainly has applications in algorithmic music generation spheres, and am sure a bunch of diehard IDM producers would kill for one, if they found out about it.

Perhaps their target audience is wrong, but it's still an interesting project.
I'd like to hear it. The thing that eventually bores me about Wolfram Tones is that there's no heirarchy (at least the kind one's ears long to hear during a musical passage.) Just notesnotesnotesnotesnotesnotesnotes...

I wonder if this is more 'musical'.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Music Thing on Twitter
    follow MT on Twitter

    Music Thing Hits:
    Music Thing Heroes:
    Music Thing Friends:
    My music gear for sale
    DIY Modular Synth
    Matrix Synth
    Create Digital Music
    Analog Industries
    Boing Boing Gadgets
    London Video Production
    Wire to the Ear
    Palm Sounds
    Noise Addicts
    Retro Thing
    Analogue Haven
    Music Thing Massive
    About Music Thing:
    Send tips to Music Thing
    About this site
    Music Thing Massive
    RSS Feeds

    Problem with the ads?
    Please let me know