Whether it’s robot-controlled orchestras, cyberpunk saxophones, or zero-gravity space chimes, we’re suckers for weird musical instruments. Now, thanks to a recently launched Kickstarter campaign, there’s a new entry on our list — and, fittingly for such an avant-garde creation, it’s called Oddball.
If you were to give Oddball the high-concept elevator pitch, you would probably describe it as a throwable drum machine. Essentially, it’s a sensor-filled ball which uses pressure sensors and accelerometers to work out when it hits a surface, and how hard it hits the said surface. When one of these collisions takes place, it uses Bluetooth to trigger a sound played through an accompanying mobile app. By programming different sounds, and finding new ways to bounce the ball, it’s possible to create all manner of new beats and loops.
“The main idea behind Oddball is to make music more accessible, playful, and intuitive for everybody,” co-creator Pasquale Totaro told Digital Trends. “[Co-founder Nathan Webb and I] were talking about that instinctual pleasure you feel when playing an instrument, when you make noise, and when you lay down a groovy beat. We realized that, in reality, it is something that is reserved for a very small group of people — because you need to buy an instrument, commit to practicing and lessons, and is quite uncomfortable when you are just starting off. We asked ourselves, ‘how can we create something that is user-friendly, playful, and easy to use that would allow anybody to experience making music?’ That is how the idea of a ball came about. A ball is the iconic symbol of play: Everybody knows how to bounce it, and the physical nature of using a ball is very rhythmic.”
The accompanying Oddball mobile app lets you select the sound you want to play when the ball bounces, loop beats and overdub, share your created songs with friends, add additional effects, or even play over existing songs. If you’re a bit more skillful, you can also connect multiple balls and assign different sounds to each for a bouncing orchestra effect.
“Imagine if you are out and about, and you want to make a beat,” c0-creator Nathan Webb told us. “Yes, you can use a portable MIDI pad, but with Oddball your whole body and the environment around you can be part of that creative moment.”
As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the potential risks associated with crowdfunding campaigns. However, if you’re interested in getting involved, head over to the Oddball Kickstarter page to pledge your hard-earned cash. A single Oddball will set you back $77.50, although other price options are also available. Shipping is set to take place in January 2019.