Google’s Music, Makers & Machines exhibition lets you play vintage synths using AR

XL Recordings, Bog Moog Foundation, ADE, Sydney Opera House and more collaborate on the online exploration of electronic music.

Over 50 museums, festivals, educational establishments, archives, and labels have collaborated with Google Arts & Culture on Music, Makers & Machines. The online virtual exhibition showcases the history and legacy of electronic music, with experiences involving iconic synthesizers, studios and music venues.

Google’s free platform presents a collection of 200 online exhibitions, 360-degree tours, 3D scans, Augmented Reality features, over 13,000 archived photos and videos and editorial features. It focuses on electronic music scenes, iconic sounds and famous cities.

TR-808 gif
Roland’s TR-808 as a navigable 3D model. Image: Google

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Designed as an educational resource, Music, Makers & Machines also features lesson plans for schools and students for classroom and online learning. In a time where venues are closed and access to studios is limited, Google’s exhibition is a novel way to experience the most important aspects of electronic music.

Music, Makers & Machines feature highlights

AR Synth is an experiment by the Google Arts & Culture Lab that provides virtual access to five vintage synths and samplers. These instruments are taken from a collection from the Swiss Museum for Electronic Music (SMEM). It comprises the ARP Odyssey, Moog Memorymoog, Roland CR78, Akai S900 and Fairlight CMI.

You can use the AR feature to scan your surroundings and drag and drop instruments into your space to play with. Each instrument is equipped with a 16-step sequencer with a randomiser and the ability to input your own notes. A 3D version is also available on desktop.

Google Music, Makers & MAchines
Image: Google

3D scans of 22 synthesizers from SMEM’s collection are also available to view, giving you a close-up look at the Roland TR-808, TR-909 and Jupiter 8, the Oberheim OB-8, the Korg MS-20, Akai and Roger Linn’s MPC50 and more. You’ll also be able to check out the iconic entrance door of Berlin’s Tresor club.

Street views and 360-degree tours are available, showcasing the Berlin Museum of Musical Instruments, London Museum of Youth Culture, Pierre Henry Studio in Paris, WDR Studio for Electronic Music, The CAN Studio, Siemens Studio and more.

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UK design studio Dorothy has created an online version of its Electronic Music Map. The feature celebrates over 200 inventors, artists, composers and musicians who have been pivotal in the electronic music scene.

A few exhibition highlights include A Brief History of Early Dubstep; King Britt’s Blacktronika, exploring black innovators in electronic music; How Grime Took Over the UK; Detroit Techno: The Sound House of Mirrors and phatmedia: Iconic Flyer Collection.

King Britt Blacktronika
Image: Bernie Worrell (c) Brian Diescher – Bob Moog Foundation

Editorial features explore the stories of synthesis innovators. You can learn about Alan R. Pearlman of ARP Instruments Raymond Scott, Pierre Schaeffer, Daphne Oram, Bob Moog and more.

Contributors to the site include XL Recordings, the Bog Moog Foundation, Kompajkt, Kitsuné, Amsterdam Dance Event, SMEM, Chicago History Museum, Barbican Centre, Sydney Opera House, and many more.

Amit Sood, director of Google Arts & Culture said of the exhibition: “I’m proud that from today on, record labels and cultural institutions from all around the world are telling the history of electronic music on Google Arts & Culture. Learning about the music, the makers and the machines behind the tunes we love rekindles my appreciation for the movement’s impact on our lives.”

Whether you’re a music tech newcomer or part of your studio’s furniture, you could easily get lost in Music, Makers & Machines for hours.

Music, Makers & Machines can be accessed on the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS or Android. To explore the exhibition online or on a desktop computer, head to artsandculture.google.com.

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