The flexible toolkit yields nearly limitless possibilities.
Making music does a lot more than delight. In fact, recent studies suggest that the practice strengthens neural pathways, helps build resistance to memory loss, and eases stress levels across the board.
But those who have never picked up an instrument before encounter a number of barriers, which range from limited access to the notion that it's too late to start. That gap is where Artiphon's co-founder Jacob Gordon takes aim.
“The arts should be participatory," Gordon told NEW INC in an interview. “That includes remix culture, and the idea that participation should be inclusive, democratized, and accessible. Media and arts should be a two-way street."
In 2015, Gordon and his partner, Mike Butera, launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for an electronic device called INSTRUMENT 1, a musical instrument that boasts the combined capabilities of a piano, a guitar, a violin, and a drum set.
“This is a connected device,” Gordon says, “which means it taps into your iPhone, iPad, or computer. You can plug and play with the Artiphon app, or explore a long list of third-party apps and software like GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic, and so on.”
The instrument sets you back $399. PC Magazine's Jordan Minor thinks it’s worth it: "Its price tag may scare non-professionals away, but the Instrument 1 is a unique, powerful, accessible music machine regardless of skill level."
At the moment, Gordon says the company is supporting their community forum of around 1,200 active users, developing the instrument's existing software, and plotting new products. Until then, musicians and hobbyists alike have been employing the Instrument 1 in surprising ways – and often to spectacular effect. See seven things you could do with one:
1. Jam with friends.
Nothing beats making music with others, especially when you can switch instruments mid-stride. Here, the band Wild Adriatic finds an upbeat groove with a trio of INSTRUMENT 1’s.
2. Try your hand at playing a classic.
Here, the INSTRUMENT 1 is played in Violin preset playing a bit of Bach.
3. Create an instrument you've always wanted to play.
4. Learn music for the first time.
The INSTRUMENT 1 can be set up like six strings and twelve frets of a guitar, so all the lessons you find on YouTube will translate nicely.
"If you wanted to learn your first guitar chords, set guitar in the Instrument 1, look up a tutorial on YouTube, and you can do it," Gordon explained. "All the fingering you would do on a traditional guitar you can [also] do on this."
Careless Whisper, perhaps?
5. Be the whole band.
6. Button mash.
Put the INSTRUMENT 1 all in one key, choose a sound, and go to town.
"With a few basics, you can really start to get something cool going," Gordon said. "This is good for electronic, dance, and hip-hop artists. The app has traditional and electronic drum machine sounds."
7. Cover your favorite song.
"[We're encouraging] that maker-culture mindset of trial and error, and doing experiments, and inventing and not feeling like you need to squeeze yourself into a rigid definition of what music-making should look like," Gordon said.
"We have a mantra we recite amongst ourselves: Dabbling is not a crime. Part of it is the tools, and part of it is the mindset."