China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Play Me a Song, Sweet Music Kit

rockstarlittleBits,the creator of an open-source library of electronic “Bits,” that snap together with magnets for learning and play, partnered with Korg, a leading global manufacturer of electronic musical equipment, to create a kid-friendly, music-making machine, and I was lucky enough to get in on the action. On November 7, the new littleBits Synth Kit was unveiled at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The collaboration of Korg with littleBits may not seem obvious, but it is actually genius. This new synthesizing kit is perfectly designed for the use of everyone—from professional musicians to hobbyists with an interest in making new sounds and pushing the boundaries in technology and music. Using the kit, music lovers can build infinite customizable sounds from practically anywhere.

littleBitsAt the event, attendees were given the opportunity to play with the brightly colored and multi-functioning Synth Kits, listening to the created sounds through Korg headphones. It was such a neat experience, as I felt like a music master using equipment like that used to produce the innovative sound of revolutionary bands such as The Beatles and The Doors, and modern artists such as The Cure and MGMT. It’s such an awesome way for kids to get involved in music at an early age. Yes, most children are able to utilize musical instruments and their voices, but this is such a unique opportunity for kids to get involved in the music production industry. Little musicians can explore the world behind the music with the sound of the synthesizer instrument. Even better, the “Bits” are interchangeable and can be constructed in different ways for different sounds, so kids can build their own sound machines and choose their favorite outcomes. The Bits modules included with the kits snap together instantly using magnets that create circuits. These circuits are similar to those used in Korg’s analog synthesizers, so the quality of these kits is amazing, truly.

littleBits1Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits, introduced the Synth Kits saying, “Our goal is to break technology down to its fundamental parts and put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone. This new kit is an incredibly easy-to-use, high-quality, analog modular synthesizer, and is designed to inspire people of all ages to unleash their inner rock star.” Speakers from Korg and littleBits displayed evident enthusiasm for the new product, and it was especially exciting for me, as I am a huge fan of The Beatles, MGMT, Blondie, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, Passion Pit, The Cure, The Doors, Phish, Pink Floyd, and U2 (Should I just list all of my favorite bands? Because I will.), all of which have used synthesizers to create their unique sounds. This product makes it possible for me to make similar sounds in my own apartment—ok realistically, the sounds probably won’t be similar, but an effort will be made! There will certainly be a Synth Kit in my possession as soon as the product is available, and the music nerd in me is anxious with excitement about the hours I can play trying to get there, as well as the outcome!

littleBits3The kits include an assortment of 12 electronic Bits modules, including power, two oscillators, filter, envelope, delay, keyboard, micro sequencer, mix, split, random, and synth speaker. The Synth Kit includes a project booklet that outlines step-by-step instructions for 10 projects. I had never used a Synth Kit, or anything of the like, and the instructions helped me create sounds that I certainly wouldn’t have composed otherwise. Kits will be available December 1, and will be available at littleBits.com and at select specialty retailers. If you love the kit, and I’m positive that you will, you can purchase accessories to create an entire music-making station. This could become an expensive hobby, as you can buy multiple kits that can be used at one time for a magnified experience—I’m not complaining. After playing with the synthesizers for a very short time, I’m thinking it would be so worth it. The Synth Kits can also be combined with other littleBits modules to create visual, light, and mechanical installations with no wiring, soldering, or programming required. Your little ones will have an entire studio set up before you know it!

For more commentary from Kara, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!