We’re still trying to make sense of everything that just happened, but we do know one thing: Moogfest was a rare and remarkable gathering. After taking last year off to rethink itself, the festival moved from Asheville to Durham, NC for 2016, where it magnetized a remarkably dynamic roster of artists, bands, thinkers, and explorers. The daytimes were mostly filled with talks and workshops, and the evenings bubbled over with incredible – and surprisingly intimate – performances.
First, the music. We saw Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, and Oneohtrix Point Never, one after the other, attempt to sonically dismantle the historic Carolina Theater (they nearly succeeded). We saw Laurie Anderson narrate delicate stories with her keyboard and electric violin. Sam Aaron livecoded a DJ set using Sonic Pi. Actress moved a crowd at The Durham Armory. And Kode9’s set was guided by a video screen drone navigating an abandoned industrial wasteland. Then there was GZA, Reggie Watts, Dawn of MIDI, Grimes, Son Lux, and sunn O))). Yes, it was a feast.
Moogfest starts this Thursday, May 19, kicking off a super-exciting lineup of speakers, workshops, interactive events, and a long weekend of stellar bands. We’ll be there participating in several talks, panels, and workshops, so check out our schedule below and come say hello.
Centered around the old Lucky Strike campus in Durham, NC, Moogfest is a hybrid event meant to celebrate the legacy of legendary synth luminary Bob Moog.
The nighttime headliners include the likes of Odesza, Grimes, and Miike Snow. Some of our other favorites include Reggie Watts, Gary Numan, Laurie Anderson, Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange), Actress, Bob Moses, Daniel Lanoi, Dawn of MIDI, Son Lux, YACHT (the list goes way on).
The daytimes are packed with thought leaders in the realm of music tech, VR, futurism, and (of course) synthesizers. Part of the fun is that the world doesn’t really know what to make of Moogfest, but is definitely paying attention. Forbes ran some nice preview coverage of the festival (and Artiphon) here.
We’ve pondered at length how best to capture the musical possibilities of the INSTRUMENT 1 in ways that are inspiring, illuminating, and in keeping with our commitment to creative empowerment. In this video, we set out to document the dynamics of musical invention while showcasing the unique traits of the INSTRUMENT 1.
We paired musicians from two exceptional Nashville bands: Jeremy Bullock (a founding member of Wild Cub) and Timon Lance (an ethnomusicologist and guitarist for Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes). In an unscripted, unrehearsed setting, Jeremy and Timon wove together loops and layers using the INSTRUMENT 1 and multiple other musical tools. The result is a unique sound that emerged from the process of co-discovery. It was also a whole lot of fun.
It was our honor to be invited to take part in The FADER Arcade in Austin this week. It was a stimulating menagerie of music, tech, immersive media, comedy, and – of course – lots of live music. We met dozens of new friends and got to see so many faces light up as they took the INSTRUMENT 1 for a spin.
The FADER also ran a great little video profile of Artiphon and co-founder/CMO Jacob Gordon.
Co-founder/CMO Jacob Gordon demonstrating the INSTRUMENT 1 (Photo credit: Linnéa Mellander)
We had a very special invitation in January to come to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan – widely considered one of the most influential art museums in the world – and demonstrate the INSTRUMENT 1 for guests. The occasion was the final week of MoMA’s exhibit titled Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye. It was a dynamic collection that included pop art, iconic pieces of audio electronics from Braun and Bang & Olufsen, a mint condition 1964 Fender Stratocaster, and two plate glass windows that played Brian Eno’s Music for Airports using declassified Navy audio technology.
We would like to thank the Kickstarter backers and other supporters who came out and said hello. And a deep thank you to MoMA for the rare and thrilling opportunity.
Traditional musical instruments are generally meant to be played in one way. We could think of them as singular. Artiphon’s vision is to take this experience from singular to plural. The INSTRUMENT 1 invites you to combine techniques, tunings, sounds, and positions, letting you design your own ways of exploring, playing, and creating.
The INSTRUMENT 1 has four main playing presets that determine how the instrument responds to your touch. In the video above, Artiphon founder and CEO Mike Butera demonstrates the four: guitar, violin, piano, and drum. Each is indicated by an icon and a white LED light on the face of the INSTRUMENT 1, and you can cycle through them by pressing the volume knob.
When we designed the INSTRUMENT 1, we put a strong focus on flexibility and compatibility. We wanted people to be able to use it with a broad range of devices and music programs, not just the Artiphon app on their mobile device. One of the most accessible and versatile programs out there is Apple’s GarageBand for Mac.
The INSTRUMENT 1 lets you to tap right into the world of GarageBand and play it in some entirely new ways. (Not to mention you can toss your entire recording studio into your backpack.) In the video above, Artiphon founder/CEO Mike Butera puts together a quick multi-track piece using just the INSTRUMENT 1 and GarageBand on a MacBook Air.
For the past few years, we’ve been talking with music therapists about the techniques they use and struggles they encounter in helping people rediscover music-making. Music therapy has proven benefits in so many situations: for physical and mental health, as prevention and cure, in the clinic and beyond. We recently sat down with Jenny Plume from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to discuss the many ways the INSTRUMENT 1 could be used in these contexts, and she had some incredibly inspiring things to say.
We believe everyone can benefit from playing more music, and we’re excited to be working with several outreach programs exploring new opportunities for how to make music with technology. We’d love to hear your stories and any other ideas you might have for how we can empower people to be musically creative in their everyday lives.
Musical instruments have been evolving for thousands of years. From the lute to the piano, from orchestras to synthesizers, humans have always pushed the current limits of music by creating new ways to make and organize sound. With digital technology, we can now create and reproduce any imaginable sound with devices already in our pockets. While the possibilities are endless, the question remains: how do we want to interact with these sounds? How might we more intuitively turn our intentions into music?
Four years ago, Artiphon set out to rethink the musical instrument in a new way, to create an instrument that adapts to the way you want to play it. To accomplish this, we had to develop custom interfaces, design an entirely new instrument form for multiple ergonomics, and streamline the experience so that people could play music instantly. We don’t think music should be limited to those who already know how to play. We believe that everyone is already musical, and that we all deserve to enjoy the process of making music and sharing it with others.
We envision a future where everyone can enjoy playing music. We’ve heard from people all over the world, learning their creative process and the desires, struggles, and hopes that come alongside. We’re constantly testing our assumptions to confirm that what we’re developing inspired people in their everyday lives.