People Are Making Music Out Of Weird Stuff

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve watched people make playable records out of some crazy stuff.

The creativity of these three people are amazing. First, Amanda Ghassaei‘s got some magic Python voodoo to get 3D-printed records. Sure, the quality’s reminiscent of Edison’s wax cylinders (and granted, we’re at the same starting point, just with new technology) but the fact that someone can print out a vinyl record from their computer is no doubt impressive. Right now, the limitations of the fidelity of the record fall to the imprecisions of 3D printing:

 I printed these records on a UV-cured resin printer called the Objet Connex500. Like most 3D printers, the Objet creates an object by depositing material layer by layer until the final form is achieved. This printer has incredibly high resolution: 600dpi in the x and y axes and 16 microns in the z axis, some of the highest resolution possible with 3D printing at the moment. Despite all its precision, the Objet is still at least an order of magnitude or two away from the resolution of a real vinyl record.

It sounds recognizable. That’s an important first step. As 3D printing gets more and more precise, we’ll be able to download CAD files of singles and print them out at home, or at your local MakerBot location, or whatever.

Something a bit more low-fi

Of course, if you don’t want to 3D-print yourself something guaranteed to wreck the hell out of your record player needle, then Fred Murphy‘s got something that’s a little more juvenile. In the 1970s, Fisher Price sold a Music Box record player. Each disk was bright plastic, and had ruts and grooves. In the arm of the record player was tines that would plink off the notches in the grooves of the record, like a music box. Had one when I was a kid. It was awesome. (Mostly to throw the plastic records around.) Well, Fred’s worked out an easy way to 3D print records that fit to spec:

Extending the life of these toys from the 70s that were granted built to last is something amazing. Murphy’s literally just created new content for a locked-in, proprietary device from almost 40 years ago. That is impressive. And, you can buy the record player on Amazon right now since Fisher Price re-released them.

Something with a little more bite

But probably the most interesting thing you can stick into a record player would be the thing that makes both the least amount and the most amount of sense, simultaneously: a flour tortilla, as inspired by this YouTube gag.

Because every meme should be tested as physically possible, just in case. YouTube user Rapture Records provided detailed instructions on how to carefully burn a tortilla in order to get the Mexican Hat Dance playable on it. Warning: Eating it afterwards will have detrimental effects on its musical efficacy.