National Music Centre a hands-on experience, says tech columnist Wil Knoll
ARP 2500 modular analog synthesizer a throwback to his childhood
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre is filled with cool gadgets and historical instruments, but one old-school item in particular stands out for CBC Calgary News at 6 technology columnist Wil Knoll.
"The building is gorgeous but there's something in there that I think is a little more gorgeous," he said.
The thing that has Knoll excited is an ARP 2500 modular analog synthesizer, the same kind used in the classic film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
"I have a memory of seeing that when I was about 10 years old on VHS and there's that scene toward the end where the military is trying to communicate with the aliens," he said.
The fact the NMC is a living museum means visitors will get to touch and even make music with the synthesizer.
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"The NMC has a bit of a tradition or a pedigree of doing that type of stuff, where they've specialized in making exhibits that are welcoming that even the youth or kids can come up and play with," said Knoll.
A peg board was created by NMC educational program lead Evan Rothery for last year's Calgary Mini Maker Faire.
"He rolled out this peg-board instrument, which was essentially three peg boards with a microphone connected to it, then a whole bunch of found objects, spoons, cups, violin bows, all that different type of stuff," he said.
"Then he invited the kids to come up and play with it and reconfigure it and they found the kids got it naturally, but it was also exposing to them at the same time to how sound works. If a violin string is longer when it's plucked it will have a lower note, if something vibrates faster it will have a higher pitch, it was a very easy way to expose to kids the physics of the music."
Installations at NMC will function in a similar way, said Knoll.
"We don't want to ruin any of the surprises but Rothery has hinted there's at least two interactive installations going in that are going to help expose the physics of music, or sound to you," he said.
"That might even be something as simple as your physical spot or placement in a room, or even your shape … how you're standing will influence the shape of the sound waves that are getting generated."
NMC will be open to the public July 1, free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
CBC Calgary News at 6