Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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How to make music composition easy and fun? Add lasers

November 10, 2009 |  4:31 pm

How do you get started in music composition without any experience or talent? Use a laser beam.

Pop & Hiss has been playing with a review unit of the Beamz Interactive Music System, a fun desktop gadget for cranking out weird music.

Once pulled open, installed and plugged into a Windows computer, the device shoots a half-dozen lasers. Players wave their fingers and hands to break the beams. Don't worry --  they won't zap you.

The sounds continuously play while you're obstructing the beams, making for some nice-sounding music that's incredibly easy to pull off. The device keeps everything on rhythm even if you have none, and an optional persistent beat can train players how to groove.

You're not actually playing notes using the beams, but rather pre-recorded tracks. There's dozens of six-track sets that you can manipulate by waving your various appendages.

The Beamz falls somewhere between Guitar Hero and a real instrument on the musical-mastery spectrum -- a space previously dominated by the Leap Frog Animal Sounds Guitar. You don't need to know any music theory or even be well-timed. Just slap the red laser, and you get a cool sound.

It fits that lovely cliche: "The gift for the person who has everything." Unsurprisingly, it's available for sale at the Sharper Image and SkyMall.

With the holidays coming up, the Beamz is an easy party gift. But at $200, so is the Wii.

We suspect that musically challenged folks, especially kids, with plenty of imagination but lacking in motor skills, will find this to be a fun way to unleash their creativity.

-- Mark Milian

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