So my wife bought me an amazing little gadget a little while ago, and I have to tell you, it’s amazing….
It’s called “Beamz“, and while it may have been around for a while, I think it’s finally getting some deserved notice.
I think it originally must have had some bad marketing, because you can find all sorts of people from 4 years or so ago giving this little device ( although it isn’t really ‘little’ ) a big raspberry/bad rap/huge laugh. But in the last two years, it’s been getting some big time notice from some big time names ( more on that later. ) For now let’s just say that it was developed by a musician ( Jerry Riopelle ) for DJ’s/other musicians/people who can’t play music….. yeah I know. HUH 😕 ? But it works! And it works really well!
It’s a great little device that allows you to sort of play music, without really having to know how ( if that makes any sense. ) 😯 What I have found over the past few weeks of playing with it is that you need to have, or develop a sense of, rhythm using it. Once you have that, you can create music from it’s music ( again not very clear, but hopefully soon it will be. )
If you are looking for a really great technical and in-depth overview of the device, how it works, what it does, etc, etc then this is a website is where you need to go to get that. I don’t think it was written in English ( possibly Italian ) but it has translation buttons for all the major languages at the bottom of the article. It is really full of in-depth information and well worth the read. Here is the website that you can find it at – www.marcodesalvo.it/beamz.html. My link should point to the English version of the article, but if it doesn’t just go to the bottom and choose the language of your choice. You won’t find a better over-view anywhere. Marco did an amazing job on this!
Essentially, for me, the Beamz takes a programmed piece of music or music “jam session” ( adhoc music played around a particular piece ) and breaks it up, on average, between 6 to 12 separate musical sections. Each of these sections could range between a cymbal being hit to a 12 piece violin movement and everything and anything in between. Each section is then assigned to one of the available laser beam banks that the Beamz will play. This ensures that the music, in general, will always play melodically when anyone plays the Beamz and hence no bad notes ( in theory anyways…. )
I unfortunately only have the basic Beamz package. The professional package actually lets one develop your own music and assign it accordingly to the laser beams within the Beamz, so my following description is based upon conjecture, observation and experimentation…… and YES I will be getting the Studio Software which will allow me to do everything the professional package allows one to do.
The laser beams act as triggers, in that while the beam is broken that particular section will play. But it actually does a lot more than just play that section. These sections are also programmed to play the music according to predefined parameters, usually based upon the beat or movement of the music, with appropriate end sounds when the beam is reconnected. The result is that it feels like you can play individual notes, rhythms and even full sections of the song depending upon how one triggers the laser beam. Which is why I’ve found rhythm to be so important ( at least in my case. )
Once you are “in the groove” or flowing with the rhythm of the music, you can actually play the various pieces of the music and create something that is altogether different in sound that what was originally there. A case in point is the music that comes with the Beamz music called “Green Onions”. Depending upon your mood you can either turn this into something jazzy, or rock like, or very bluesy all depending on how you play each laser beam.
I’ve heard it said that with “The Beamz” you can’t make a bad note…. we’ll I’ve found that some of the mixes, which give great variability in play style, can also mix discordant instruments ( for lack of a better word ) which can easily sound jarring and ill fitted. So while the notes themselves may not be badly formed, the playing of them at the wrong time can certainly make them seem that way… But I’ve found that once you learn which ones not to play when, leaves you sounding pretty good!
There are essentially two packages available, each device containing 6 lasers ( although there are rumours that there is or might have been a 4 laser device at one time. ) The main difference aside from price ( about US$200 and US$300 ) is that the lower cost unit simply plays music. The cheaper device comes with about 30 songs and can buy more later at US$3 each from the company. The more expensive unit apparently comes with a midi connection as well as Studio software which will let you create your own Beamz music from all sorts of sources. The Studio software can be purchased separately ( which of course, I will be doing ) for those who originally bought the $200 package, for $100.
The company is also in the process of setting up a social site for Beamz owners and fans. I think they have tried to find any and every combination of Beamz and Community and point it to the same website www.beamzcommunity.com. Where people will be able to share stories, information, songs, questions, etc, etc. They are also planning to come out with an SDK/developers package ( essentially the software needed by a developer to write software to talk to the Beamz ) for both Windows, Mac and Linux. Which means that more software and tools will eventually, no doubt, be coming out for your Beamz on the platform that best suits you.
Lastly, for me, the Beamz is a meditation device. Heaven knows I’ve tried over the years to try and find some way to still all the voices in my head and experience the “joy of meditation” but whenever I try there are at least 2 to 3 of them still arguing about how each other should be quiet 🙄 …. I mean really! I’ve found that when I play the Beamz, my hands move and my mind is completely silent…. It’s really amazing…. and wonderful.
I’ve inserted some of my favourite videos of “The Beamz” below for you to enjoy. I hope, if you’ve gotten this far, that you will enjoy them as much as I did….. T’ill next time.
This first one is a remix of RadioHeads House of Cards…. I find it mesmerizing
Here’s one of a 9 year old who get’s into the groove of the Beamz – awesome
Finally a wonderful video using the Beamz prototype being used in a Childrens Hospital – truley amazing!
And lastly just for the fun of it “The Red Bank Bounce” played on two Beamz at once…. Wow!
Okay, this is the last, last, last, final….. I promise ( okay Hope.) My wife insisted I include this video of an explanation by Dr. Barry Bittman as to why the Beamz is so awesome…. and I thought I was the geeky one. 😀
You can find lots more pictures and other videos available on The Beamz main website
BEETH is a promotion code I’ve arranged that will give you (if you order using it) free shipping and 10 extra free songs if you register with it
As there seems to be a lot of interest, and I’m getting a lot of hits, because of the Beamz, I’ve now made a category called My Beamz. Where you can find any and all articles that I’ve written about this great little device.