Peter Jackson's $100,000 robot band

If you've ever wondered where the 'Lord of the Rings' millions went, Ragtime Automated Music is the answer. They're a make MIDI-controlled acoustic instruments - banjos, guitars, steel drums etc. Peter Jackson bought a LB-BGJ, a cabinet which contains a full drum kit, a piano, and accordian, 24 organ pipes, a guitar, a bango and an electric bass. All connected to MIDI, controlled through a touch-screen interface on the front. He bought it "as a Christmas present for his wife". It costs him $99,975. I highly recommend this video in which Peter has exactly the embarrased expression you might have if you'd just spent $100,000 on a huge machine which sort-of plays 'A day in the life". The rest of their site is awesome. They sell MIDI-controlled monkey organs. (Thanks Tommy, good to have you back)


Comments:
well this was a treat.
I have not seen anything like this outside of "The House on the Rock" in Wisconsin.
That place is full of these things, but having been "behind the scenes" working on a Music Video for "10,000 Maniacs" several years ago, I found that they were all just pneumatically operated and the music came from tape recordings.
It is nice to see actual WORKING ones!
 
I wonder which MIDI note sends the signal to the robot to carry out the human extermination sequence.

And also is it me or does that "robot" sound like crap. Its a nice idea, but would rather have Captured By Robots play at my house.
 
that sounds worse than an actual MIDI file
 
The family decap makes this kind of things since 1902 have a look here They used to put them in dancehalls, also mobile ones to go from town to town
they have a nice sound
http://www.decap-gebr-antwerp.com/english%20main.htm
they are called decap organs
also
http://www.decap-herentals.be/ here you can find some music samples sounds just great
 
Midi doesn't 'sound' good or bad. That's a total misnomer.

Midi is the digital equivilant of sheet music - instructions for recreating music. It's the crappy midi instruments in most sound cards, cell phone, etc that 'sound bad.' Real synths, samplers, drum machines, etc.. can accept midi commands and sound excellent. There's also real pianos and other instruments that'll play back midi.
 
At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California they have a very similar machine that makes the music for the carousel.
 
At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California they have a very similar machine that makes the music for the carousel.
 
a MIDI file played back on a cheap soundcard DOES sound bad - and alot worse than an actual band doing a cover tune

yes its because the MIDI file is being played by a crap wavetable, but that doesnt mean it doesnt sound like SHIT

i know what MIDI is - ive been playing electronic music for about a decade now

i didnt think i would have to indicate that this machine "sounds worse than an actual MIDI file being played by a soundblaster or clone"

but i guess i do to satisfy anal nerds like yourself
 
There is a small town outside Pittsburgh that has the old time versions of these devices.

http://www.debencemusicworld.com/

You can look at them closeup and there are no tape recordings.
 
Anything recorded on a cheap camcorder sounds like crap if you use the inbuilt mics (as this appears to have done).

Go and listen to these things for real - they sound pretty amazing (and usually very loud). You might not agree, but not everybody likes the sound of modern, sterile, over-produced music.
 
There is something inherently weird about this whole concept; using a modern sequencer and mechanics to control traditional physical instruments. Loud, or not, it's klunky as hell, modern, and STERILE.

Yeah, MIDI thru cheap sndblaster sucks, too, but who'd pay $100000 for one of those? Think of what an awesome 'ragtime' (sic) band you could hire for that kinda money.

really, the only interetsting thing is how'd they get it all in there?
 
You could probably hire three musicians to sit for a year in your living room and play whatever you wanted (with weekends, holidays and vacations off).

If you had them come in for the equivalent of one day a week then you could have live musicians for 28 years. In your living room. Playing whatever your devious little heart desired. Better than "Sunset Boulevard"! >:->

Cheers,
Kevin
 
"There is something inherently weird about this whole concept; using a modern sequencer and mechanics to control traditional physical instruments. Loud, or not, it's klunky as hell, modern, and STERILE. "

But THAT'S the COOL part!!! Mozart and Beethoven wrote lovely music for mechanical orchestras like these. In the 20th Century, Conlon Nancarrow did some amazing things with player pianos by hand punching rolls to do things no piano player could ever do. Yes, most of the stock arrangements are ricky-ticky but in the right hands....yours maybe?
 
Accordian? Bango? When writing a music blog, cmoon instruments should certainly be in your spellchecker.
 
Can you imagine what it must be like to try to keep this thing in tune?

And how bad it would sound if the customer was a non-musician who didn't bother?
 
I think hearing this monstrosity untuned would be hilariously orsum!!! That vid is hilarious! Peter Jackson looks more than a lil uncomfortable, and that creep staring at the camera is all like 'nininininininin, I MADE THIS, ninoinininininin'
 
I think hearing this monstrosity untuned would be hilariously orsum!!! That vid is hilarious! Peter Jackson looks more than a lil uncomfortable, and that creep staring at the camera is all like 'nininininininin, I MADE THIS, ninoinininininin'
 
I love how Peter Jackson *always* looks like a complete mess.
 
Automatic musical instruments are not some kind of joke. They can produce beautiful/happy/hot/sad/dark/bright music, depending on who's doing the arrangements and the instrument. They may have their limitations, but are musical instruments in their own right, and should be accepted for what they are, not some kind of cheap substitute for something else. Though certain instruments such as barrel organs and cylinder-operated carillons date back to the 1500's, the years of greatest popularity (and the biggest sales for their manufacturers) was about c.1885-1930, with a peak from c.1905-1920, especially in the U.S. In some places like the Netherlands and Belgium, street and dance organs have never gone out of popularity, while a steady resurgance of interest from the 1950's to the present has caused a new appreciation for some of these instruments as art treasures, and conscientious enthusiasts have saved many historic instruments from destruction. Two american organizations have many members and good sound clips/pictures of antique and modern instruments on their website: http://www.amica.org/ and http://www.mbsi.org/. European organizations are quite numerous, but two good examples are http://www.draaiorgel.org/ and http://www.playerpianogroup.org.uk/
A restored antique instrument can provide great enjoyment, as can some of the newer ones. Especially listen to the two violin players in the gallery on the MBSI website!
 
>Automatic musical instruments are not some kind of joke.

Quite right, but why do people smile when they hear them then? Does it really matter if people find them funny?

They may have their limitations, but are musical instruments in their own right, and should be accepted for what they are, not some kind of cheap substitute for something else.

Here here! They are NOT a cheap substitute for something else. No, they are an expensive substitute for everything else. I wish some of us mechanical music enthusists would take ourselves a little less seriously more often! PS www.playerpianogroup.org.uk (The UK's largest longest established player piano and related instrument society) can also be found at www.pianolasociety.com For mechanical music info and the lighter side visit the mad pianola doctor Dr Duarte at www.themodist.com also! Enjoy! ...and lighten up!
 
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