Get yourself a musical robotic exoskeleton

Here’s an interesting art / performance project byMaywa Denki. Based on the simple remotely-triggered servo action of “knockers” (not in the sleezy sense)–which are direct percussive controllers that can be used to pound on various things including boxes, pipes, and guitar strings. In the above video, these knocker modules are employed to make a switch-based drum-machine-like instrument that you assign a sequence of remote knockers to, and then control the playback speed manually with a crank. It has the surreal effect of being a very nerdy guitar, with the thrashing accomplished via said crank.

Seeing as performative elements are key in this particular project, the “Wings” project shown about a bit past half way is more showy than useful, with the musician sporting spreading mechanical “wings” with knocker modules that hit hollow wooden balls that can be played via controllers on the fingers.

The video is particularly amusing in its Devo-esque tongue-in-cheek humor during the actual demonstrations, as well as the inclusion of vintage educational filmstrip dings to demarcate a new instrument being showcased. While having a direct, realtime controller of percussive sounds created remotely may be interesting for its novelty / humor value, so much more can be done in the field of musical interfaces that this sort of thing just begs to be improved upon. However, the vision and sheer performative nature of these instruments is inspiring to all who focus on creating innovative interfaces for music creation.