Archive for category Instruments

Classical Up to Date – 8 Bit Violin

Some guy named Ranjit Bhatnagar has been making 1 instrument a day since the beginning of February. So far he’s made whistles, a flute, and a failed box xylophone, but this has got to be his best creation yet. His 8 bit violin 1) Looks awesome and 2) Works! Though he may not be a violinist, yet (his playing is kinda horrible), the instrument is a feat in itself since he probably didn’t account for all of the physics of sound waves and what-have-you that goes into making a traditional violin. Check out the video at the flickr album.

Image courtesy of


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Those Out of Reach Vintage Guitars

Contessa HG-10 on eBay

Every once in a while I pop onto craigslist or ebay and search for guitars that I want. I’ve looked for resonator guitars, Italia guitars, Gibson guitars, and though I’ve never really bought anything I did go out of my way to win a vintage Contessa HG-41 last year around Christmas time. Tonight I did this old search routine and stumbled upon a Contessa HG-10 for buy. Too bad the seller wants $850 Buy it Now (with $43 shipping on top of that). Check out the posting.

If I had the cash I’d snatch this beauty up in a heartbeat. Alas, the seller is asking a lot of money. I guess I’ll just have to salivate for a while.



Here’s an oft unheard of instrument known as the hardingfele, or Hardanger fiddle, which hails from Norway. Very beautiful instrument, both in sound and appearance. It has sympathetic strings, which resonate fundamental or harmonic frequencies (very cool science behind this!!!), creating a fuller sound.

Actually, many people have heard this instrument before but don’t know it: the Rohan theme solo from The Lord of the Rings is played on hardingfele.

Pretty sweet sound.



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How To: Play an Awesome Drum Solo

Hey there,

New writer for The Beat Project here. I’m a percussionist, so I hope I understand this thing called “the beat”. Oh and just so you know, I don’t march to the beat of a different drummer, I am the different drummer!

So I thought I’d start off this writing/musical journey with you beginning with what I know: how to play drums. Alright…most people think drum solos are all about being fast. Yeah, being fast helps but I think being only fast is uninteresting. After awhile straight-up speed drumming just gets old. Might as well listen to noise because that’s all it is.

So, here are three tips that will boost anybody’s game (not just drummers!!!):

1. Get in the pocket.

“In the pocket” is basically just drummer slang for “getting in the groove.” Check out Joe Morello as he plays awesomely in 5/4 metre. He’s right there in the pocket. It’s all about the beat and getting into the rhythm. Music is about flow. Machine guns are not.

2. Play dynamically.

Don’t play loud. Any fool can play loud. Play dynamically! For those of you classically-trained musicians out there, dynamics are an essential part of any music score. So what do I mean by playing dynamically? Well, besides flow, good music is about tension and release. This can mean resolving notes or a cadence of a chord progression, but for drummers and everyone else, there’s also dynamics.

Knowing when to play down low in the groove, when to kick it up and when to let it ride are all things that come with experience. The important thing is to try because a lot of musicians don’t bother and don’t know what they’re missing.

Looking for some spice? Add accents! I don’t mean play loud and then intermittently play louder. I mean, get into the pocket (I cannot stress this enough), play at an appropriate volume level and bring the important beats to the front. Suddenly your blah sixteenth note patterns are muy caliente!

Want to kick up a notch? Once you get the dynamics and accents down pat, try throwing in some ghost notes. Sort of the opposite of an accent, ghost notes are felt more than heard. Really adds another layer to your beat that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

3. Don’t be afraid to step out there and try something new.

Stepping out is a big part of music. You’re putting a piece of yourself out there for others to experience. This advice means different things to different people. To some it may mean breaking down cultural barriers (Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project). To others it may be experimenting with your style and instrument to play something new. Maybe it means expressing yourself in a way you’ve never done before. Whatever it means or whatever you do, music is a creative, evolving process. There are always new horizons and walls to come crashing down.



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Experimental Instruments: PVC Organ

I dug this up while surfing through Lifehacker recently (aka over the week). Not only does this PVC instrument have some ingenuitive construction for what it is, (ie easy playability and great sound direction) but the individual, Snubby Jake, playing it is quite talented. Of course, it helps that the music he’s playing is recognizable and that he is quirky to watch while he plays. Just check it out. It’s pretty fun.

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How To: Turn a Sucky Song into Something at Least Entertaining

I’m not the biggest pop fan, as is evident by the types of posts appearing here at The Beat Project. If you stumbled upon this post/blog because you searched for something like “Lady Gaga” or “Bad Romance” then I’m sorry, because I’m not going to pretend like I care about pop music., however you’re more than welcome to stick around and see what this niche of the internet is about. What I do care about is musicians being creative. Like the Bret Domino Trio from the UK who previously created a Justin Timberlake medley via polyphones, pocket synths, an iPhone, keytar, and theremin. You can check that vid. out here. Most recently however they did something very similar, but with Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Check out the video and try and tell me you didn’t laugh.

P.S. I think the third part of the trio is working the camera.

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Haru-haru Haruko and her Rickenbacker Bass

Haru-haru Haruko and her Rickenbacker Bass

Of the things I want to own I hope to one day come by a Rickerbacker Bass, preferably the 4003 model. This bass and I go a way back in that it is the key instrument of a character from one of my favorite anime, FLCL. Of course, since I’m right handed I’d have to go for a righty guitar, but I’m ok with stringing a left-handed bass backwards and playing it in a “unique” fashion.

However, the main reason I’m attracted to this bass is because of the sound it puts out. Based on what I’ve read, these guitars are as amazing as they are can be attributed to their flexibility and strong sustain. With only two single coil pickups but individual control for volume and tone of each (similar to the layout on a Gibson Les Paul) these guitars are capable of producing a wide range of sound. In addition, the neck-through design contributes greatly to the sustain, allowing each note to ring out longer and more clearly than a neck that’s been bolted down for convenience. These factors make the Rickenbacker basses uber powerful.

The sound that I truly admire the Rickenbacker instruments for is that funky pop sound that really grooves. It kind of make me think of disco-rock or something like that. There’s a Japanese band called Triceratops whose lead guitarist plays a Ricky 6 string and his solo in their song WARP is pretty funkalicious.

Perhaps one day I’ll save some dough and manage to find one of these guitars. Hopefully by then I’ll also be able to play it properly. I guess we’ll see what happens.

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