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Junior Henry Monsanto, a Swiss dancer and choreographer, using Mictic music wristbands in "Guitar Mode" at a video shoot in Zurich. Photo courtesy of Mictic.

A new generation of portable music-making gadgets lets people use body movements to generate sounds, bypassing the laborious process of learning to play an instrument through practice.

Why it matters: In a world where anyone can be a Tiktok star, tech startups are betting that people will snap up devices that democratize music, helping them generate professional-sounding tunes quickly and easily.

  • There's even an emerging body of academic research dedicated to haptic music-making, which is known as the "Internet of Musical Things."

Driving the news: New to the market are various handhelds and wearables that let people use gestures, touch screens or push-buttons to jam and build songs.

  • Mictic, a pair of wristbands that retails for $119, enables wearers to generate the sounds of various instruments — guitar, piano, drums, cello — by waving their arms in controlled ways.
  • Orba, a $99 hamburger-size handheld, describes itself as "a synth, looper, and controller that lets you create songs with intuitive gestures like tapping, sliding, and waving."
  • The Donda Stem Player, backed by Kanye West (now known as Ye), is a $200 doodad that The Verge describes as "a weird music gadget that lets you listen to music and manipulate it in real-time."

What they're saying: "Making a beat on the go is a totally common thing to do — it's like almost meme level in the production community," says Andrew Huang, a musician and influencer.

Where it stands: While old-fashioned music lessons aren't going away, neophytes and professionals are turning to gadgets to enhance their skills, learn an instrument or just have fun.

  • "We’re reimagining people’s relationship with interactive music," Mershad Javan, CEO of Mictic, tells Axios.
  • With the Mictic wristbands, "our intention isn’t necessarily to replace real instruments," but the system "teaches you chord progressions; it shows you notes; it teaches you chords and keys."

What's next: An online-only charter school, Michigan International Prep School, is starting to use Mictic wristbands with its music and theater students and in workshops with its special education students.

  • "We’re big believers in getting students moving to music, and the Mictic is going to be a unique educational tool to help us accomplish that," Christopher Card, the school's arts director, said in a statement. 

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Jan 7, 2022 - Economy & Business

Music sounds like money to Wall Street

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street and music’s love affair has reached a fever pitch.

Why it matters: Artists and investors are finding it mutually beneficial to trade song rights in exchange for large payouts.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

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