Animusic: Music, Magic, and Machines

There is a Youtuber called Animusic who makes the most wonderful, fantastical videos of automated, animated, self-playing impossible instruments. Or are they really impossible? Let’s take the “Resonant Chamber” as an example.

The instrument itself can probably be built. There doesn’t appear to be any physical limitations in creating a guitar-harp hybrid so complicated no single human could play it. But get some friends over and pull up a chair and you can have the worlds’ strangest duet. The fingers that play this instrument are magically animated in the video, but attach them to strings which connects to gears that can be turned mechanically and you have a fully programmable robot slave chamber orchestra.

“Pipe Dream” is another famous video by animusic. Using a system reminiscent of a Rube Goldberg machine, balls spit out of pipes to strike strings, drums, cymbals, and other instruments in perfect rhythm to create music.

The absolutely perfect calculations required to make this happen might seem far-fetched, but this is another example of art and science meeting to create the impossible. “Pipe Dream” was actually recreated in real life by Intel to show off their Atom processor.

Of course, Animusic itself is a bit of a marvel from the future. Rather than being animated to fit the music, programmers write models that then animate themselves by listening to MIDI files and behaving accordingly. It’s a brilliant example of how even the mundane aspects of science and technology–basic programming–are changing our perception of the world around us, and rewriting the rules of what is possible.

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