The Irregular Incurve is a robotic instrument built by [Xiaoyang Feng] as part of his ITP thesis work. It’s a MIDI instrument with an array of 12 strung bows mounted to a curved shower rod. The end of each bow has a tuning key. The strings are each picked using independently mounted arms. One servo controls the downward motion of the pick while the other controls the rotation of the shaft. A damper is also attached to each arm. The string vibrations are transferred to a spruce soundbox under the bridge. Below you can see a video of Gizmodo playing with it at the ITP show. Check out [Xiaoyang]’s Flickr set for images of the build process plus some early videos of the mechanism.
This guitar bot is part of the Legue of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, or LEMUR. As you can see in the video, it has 4 strings, each mounted on it’s own unit. The pitch is controlled by a sliding bridge, while the strings are plucked by a series of picks mounted to motor. The sliding bridge is quite fast, being able to shift 2 whole octaves in a quarter of a second. The final effect is quite nice, we would listen even if we weren’t watching a robot work. This is the kind of thing we should expect to see at the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition.
[Noah] tipped us off to his work with Physically Engaged Electronic Instruments. He is building instruments, that while being electronic, require physical action to drive them. In the video after the break, you can see an example, in the form of a polka. The part that they’re holding (print head?) is attached to a generator which powers the instrument. The effect makes the instrument much more like a traditional stringed instrument that must be strummed. We can easily also imagine an interface similar to a concertina or accordion being functional. There are schematics available on his site in the research reports section, but you’ll have to dig through a pdf or two to find them. We would love to see a breakdown of the instruments and their components in a more accessible form.
Ok, we know you’re going to get mad, there’s virtually no information on the technical side. But the music was so pleasant, and that’s rare. There’s an interview with Felix, the creator, where he discusses his goals and ideas behind the project. We prefer just to sit and watch though. If you want to make something similar, there were some technical details on a mechanical drum recently.
Any musician who has ever used a computer to create music will tell you that while this technology is more than capable of producing great music, it is always a much more intimate experience to create by physically playing an instrument. In an effort to bridge this gap, [Randall Jones] has built a passive multidimensional interface that uses multitouch input to create an intimate experience that rivals that of a traditional musical instrument. While this concept may seem very complicated, the interface is made of only copper strips, rubber, and wood. At $50, this interface was designed to be inexpensive and appears to be very easy to use. As seen in the video, this interface can be used as anything from a drum to a multitouch synthesizer.
[David Crammer] must really like nightmares. The hurdy gurdy is a stringed musical instrument, dating as far back as the eleventh century A.D., where the strings are sounded via a rosined wheel that is turned with a crank. [Crammer] took this unique instrument, applied his circuit-bending and Furby-scalping skills to generate a Furby Gurdy that sound like Kraftwerk on acid.
[Alison Lewis] has posted this fantastic digital wall harp project at My Home 2.0. They built an infrared MIDI instrument into a wall, using a MidiTron and some IR sensors. It all connects to a computer running a MIDI sequencer via a MIDI to USB converter. The project was built for a family home. They wanted something musical that they could play as easily as waiving their hand. They got it! Simply run your hand under the sensors and play some music!