I've written about the Triadex Muse - the early digital synth/sequencer/alogorithmic music box invented by two MIT professors - in the past (here and at Engadget) but I've never seen anything like this: eBay item #7407855359 is one Muse, the 'Light Organ' which flashed lights in time to the music, and an external amp which I didn't know existed. All apparently in showroom condition, complete with tags and the original boxes. So, if you're an enormous geek and very rich, the $1,600 starting bid is a steal! (via Matrix Synth)
In the late 1960s, when all synths were big black boxes that looked like electronic test equipment, two MIT professors invented this thing: The Triadex Muse. It's often billed as the first digital synth, but it's not really a synth - it's a sequencer, or at least a composition machine. The sliders affect the musical notes, not the sound produced (although you seem to be stuck with the on-board sound - it won't connect to anything else). As the Synth Museum says: "The exact logic behind the composition engine is rather technical, and not exactly intuitive." One of the MIT professors was Marvin Minsky, the artificial intelligence legend who advised Stanley Kubrick during the filming of 2001 - ultimately, he's the father of Hal 9000. There's a very primitive 'virtual Muse' program here. Only 280 Muse machines were ever produced, so it seems odd that 0.7% of them are on Ebay at the moment: this one for $1,299 and this one starting at $999.
I'm now documenting a few DIY modular synth projects over at musicthing.co.uk/modular/ including this random sequencer, inspired by vintage and modern random sequencers like the Triadex Muse, Don Buchla's 266 Source of Uncertainty module and Grant Richter's Wiard Noise Ring.
I'm not manufacturing or selling modules, kits, or PCBs, but the design files are all Creative Commons licensed, so you can get PCBs by emailing one file to China, components from a company like Mouser, and laser cut acrylic front panels from anywhere that such things are made. Full how-to details are here: Finding parts to build the random sequencer.
Tenori-On is a new Yamaha prototype. It's a "personal digital instrument for playing sound and ambient light patterns." It has 256 light-topped buttons, stereo speakers, a scroll wheel, a few more buttons built into the frame, and some wireless function, so multiple Tenori-Ons can jam together. Looks awesome. Not many details, yet, but judging from the sine-wave blips on the Japanese Product Page, it could be the modern day Triadex Muse. More details at: WMMNA and Siggraph. (Thanks, Cikira) UPDATE: Here is a fantastically unhelpful movie. (via CDM)
If you're in NYC next week, be sure to check out 'Against Nature', a series of really interesting-sounding events in Brooklyn, curated by Tim 'Love' Lee. Saturday 23rd is the Unweildy Synthesizer Potluck: "Do you have a large or otherwise unwieldy analog synth ? Want to pit it against others in a Brooklyn gallery space? Introducing the Unwieldy Synthesizer Potluck... Bring your Arp 2600s, Moog Modulars, PAIA 4700s etc, plug it on and freak it out. You'll be up against the Macbeth Studio Systems M5 [left] and at least one Arp." On the Friday, Tim will be performing with the M5, and on Thursday, the schedule says "Tim Goldsworthy of The DFA and his Muse, featuring modifications by Gavin Russom" - could that be a Triadex Muse? Full event details here. (Thanks, Adam)
Sort of like a tiny, Japanese, dog-shaped, Triadex Muse, the iDog is a little robot dog that can sing: Gareth at Engadget writes: "Its main claim to fame is its musical ability, though: it’ll improvise tunes based on 720 internal musical phrases, changing the mood of the music as you wave your hand over the phototransistor on its head." More.