You could start the history of the invisible instrument at that formative moment in 1969, says Byrd McDaniel, an ethnomusicologist at Northeastern University. But McDaniel, who studies “air playing,” has found the same impulse to embody music throughout history. In the 1860s, it was described as a symptom of mental illness, but by the 1930s, it was a mere curiosity, a side effect of the phonograph; some listeners, the Minneapolis Phonographic Society reported, had “taken to ‘shadow conducting.’”
Since then, air playing has become a socially acceptable alternative for those who don’t dance, says ethnomusicologist Sydney Hutchinson of Syracuse University. The practice crosses cultures; in the Dominican Republic, people pantomime the air güira, a metal percussion instrument. But only air guitar has also become an international spectator sport.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.