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It’s time to embrace childhood things, and bring the toys of our youth into the music we make today.

 

By Chris Loeffler

 

There’s no better gateway to a life of music than those first musical “toys” we are given as children. They are loud, they lack nuance, but somehow they’re… inspirational. As we grow up and move on to “serious” instruments we forget about those toys until the next generation comes around and we place them in their hands. Every musician I know is guilty of playing with their children’s “toys” at family events, with an eye towards wrangling something truly musical out of them. What would happen if we treated these toys as true instruments of inspiration and creation?

UVI took this question to heart, and set about collecting over three-hundred of the most iconic musical instruments made for children over the last hundred years. All instruments were multi-sampled at 24/96 to ensure professional sound quality and the UVI folks were even able to get access to extremely rare instruments thanks to the support of Musée des Art Décoratifs. The final collection is available in the individual packs of UVI Acoustic Toy Museum and UVI Electric Toy Museum or in a bundle as the UVI Complete Toy Museum.

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  • UVI Electric Toy Museum is a collection of more than 95 vintage electronic music toys (7 GB, 14,000 samples), covering a gamut of old speech development toys, keyboards, mini samplers, and children’s drum machines. The sounds are faithfully lofi, and almost every nostalgic instrument from the 70’s-00’s is present, including the omnipresent Speak and Spell for all your fuzzy robotic voice needs, the DJ-One for those early 90’s beats straight out of Compton, the Hot Key funk keytar, and the voice-twisting Yellow Mike. All drums, synths, keyboards, and effects sound just as charmingly trashy as you remember them, up to and including the limitations of the tiny paper diaphragm speakers that projected the audio. Whether as stand-alone instruments or for child-like psychedelic flourishes a la Flaming Lips, all the instruments have a solid, palpable presence and natural space around them… a testament to UVI’s labor of love.

  • UVI Acoustic Toy Museum collects over 13 GB of Toy Pianos, Musical Boxes, Ancient Automates, Wood and Metal Xylophones, Mini Bells, Baby Drums, Toy Guitars, Ukulele, Melodicas, Small Accordions, Harmonicas, Children Percussions, Funny Horns, Musical Gadgets, Musical Cubes, and Plastic Tubes from around the world. The quality of construction of the original sampled instrument (or lack thereof in some cases) shines through and every percussive tick and hammered tine can be heard, lending authenticity to the sample. The ukes and guitars get every pluck and strum just right, thanks in large part to the trained musicians who played them, and each truly does represent the best these instruments can sound. Shakers and percussion were all recorded with practiced and sure hands, making the sliding of beads and death rattle of the bells on the tambourine all the more charming. In short, these instruments feel alive and present. All instruments sound exactly as they should, with a strong acoustic presence that requires almost no tweaking in live or direct recording situations.


Limitations

  • Requires iLok account and key and UVI Workstation (free) or MOTU MachFive 3 to play.
  • As these were true samples meant to capture the instruments in all their glory (and limitations), the samples stay true to the range and scale of the original instrument.

 

Conclusion

The UVI Complete Toy Museum may be the most fun you’ll have exploring instruments this year. By providing musicians with a comprehensive collection of hard to find instruments in an incredibly accessible software bundle, Complete Toy Museum allows players to explore the quirky (and, in many cases, amazing) side of these “toys” in a modern and very musical way. The UVI Complete Toy Museum, much like the children’s toys they collect, sneaks up on you as a novelty at first but lingers as an inspiration for anyone looking to go beyond the typical musical instrumentation of “adult music”. 

 

Resources

 

UVI Acoustic Toy Museum at Musician's Friend (MSRP $399.00, Street $349.00)

UVI Electric Toy Museum at Musician's Friend (MSRP $299.00, Street $249.00)

UVI Complete Toy Museum Product Page

UVI Complete Toy Museum Product Manual

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