Sunday, January 29, 2012

Incremental Advances in Musical Equipment

The new musical equipment at the two major trade shows this month may not have shown any breakthroughs, but the incremental improvements are ones that matter. We’ve seen guitar-shaped performance keyboards before, but this one has a USB interface, so that it can plug directly into a computer. Digital pianos and accordions aren’t new, but the new ones are lighter and less expensive than ever before. Auto-tune isn’t new, but built into a guitar — that’s new. As for drum synthesizers, the latest one isn’t based on samples, and won’t end up sounding like too much of the same tones after a while.

The new thing in guitar stomp boxes was one that is non-dedicated. Plug it in to an online store and you can program it to become any kind of stomp-box effect. These examples from the world of musical equipment show that it doesn’t take an unexpected innovation to change the way people work. Obvious combinations of well-known technology can have that effect too.