New music gadgets: No lessons (or instruments) required – Axios

A new generation of portable music-making gadgets lets people use body movements to generate sounds, bypassing the laborious process of learning to play an instrument through practice.

Why it matters: In a world where anyone can be a Tiktok star, tech startups are betting that people will snap up devices that democratize music, helping them generate professional-sounding tunes quickly and easily.

  • There’s even an emerging body of academic research dedicated to haptic music-making, which is known as the “Internet of Musical Things.”

Driving the news: New to the market are various handhelds and wearables that let people use gestures, touch screens or push-buttons to jam and build songs.

  • Mictic, a pair of wristbands that retails for $119, enables wearers to generate the sounds of various instruments — guitar, piano, drums, cello — by waving their arms in controlled ways.
  • Orba, a $99 hamburger-size handheld, describes itself as “a synth, looper, and controller that lets you create songs with intuitive gestures like tapping, sliding, and waving.”
  • The Donda Stem Player, backed by Kanye West (now known as Ye), is a $200 doodad that The Verge describes as “a weird music gadget that lets you listen to music and manipulate it in real-time.”

What they’re saying: “Making a beat on the go is a totally common thing to do — it’s like almost meme level in the production community,” says Andrew Huang, a musician and influencer.

Where it stands: While old-fashioned music lessons aren’t going away, neophytes and professionals are turning to gadgets to enhance their skills, learn an instrument or just have fun.

  • “We’re reimagining people’s relationship with interactive music,” Mershad Javan, CEO of Mictic, tells Axios.
  • With the Mictic wristbands, “our intention isn’t necessarily to replace real instruments,” but the system “teaches you chord progressions; it shows you notes; it teaches you chords and keys.”

What’s next: An online-only charter school, Michigan International Prep School, is starting to use Mictic wristbands with its music and theater students and in workshops with its special education students.

  • “We’re big believers in getting students moving to music, and the Mictic is going to be a unique educational tool to help us accomplish that,” Christopher Card, the school’s arts director, said in a statement. 


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