London Design Festival: Project Resonance

At this years London Design Festival, students from RCA developed a number of musical instruments in collaboration with Yamaha for the Resonance Project. The aim was to design instruments that would bring together the experience of performers and audience members, and to encourage participation and collaboration.

The purpose of Sam Weller‘s ‘Public Resonance’ project was to enable any object to be transformed into a percussion instrument. It uses a selection of G-clamp pick-ups that can be fixed to an object which detect vibrations when the object is hit, scraped or tapped.

‘Music Within’ is a project by Petter Thörne and Youness Benali whereby small cameras are attached inside guitars, drums and flutes providing an alternative visual representation of the performance.

Music Within

Lingjing Yin‘s concept, ‘Touch the Sound’, uses under floor sensors and an XBox Kinect camera. In this project, performers have the ability to create the music as they perform, the musical output is dependent on how the performers move together and touch.

In ‘The Cisum Music’ five cylindrical shaped speakers contain different elements of a musical piece and the sound is produced as the spheres are moved. The overall musical performance is dependant on which spheres are moving, which enables an interactive method to generate the music. The concept behind ‘The Cisum Music’ was developed by Anton Alvarez and the musical elements were provided by Rickard Jäverling.

The Cisum Music

‘The Human Speaker’ project was developed by Nic Wallenberg it uses a collar that fits are the user’s neck. Sound is produced by creating vibrations in the upper throat which means the vocal chords are not used.

Human Instrument

Latest work by Daito Manabe and Masaki Teruoka combines myoelectric sensors with electric muscle stimulations to create a human played and human responsive musical instrument.


Sound Builders

The Sound Builders series on highlights musicians who develop their own musical instruments. The first episode followed Peaking Lights as they prepared for their live tour. Subsequent episodes have included interviews with Diego Stocco, Eric Singer, Steve Mann, Liz Phillips, Reed Ghazla, Felix Thorn, Ranjit Bhatnagar and Ken Butler.

Actively Controlled Acoustic Instruments

A definition for ‘active controlled acoustic instruments’ can be found in the paper by Edgar Berdahl, Hans-Christoph Steiner, and Collin Oldham for NIME2008 called ‘Practical Hardware and Algorithms for Creating Haptic Musical Instruments [pdf]‘.

An actively controlled acoustic musical instrument is an acoustic musical instrument that is augmented with sensors, actuators, and a controller. These instruments can be considered a special case of haptic musical instruments where the interface is the entire acoustic instrument itself. For example, a monochord string can be plucked and bowed at various positions as usual, while its acoustic behavior is governed by the control hardware. Simple and appropriate control algorithms emulate passive networks of masses, springs, and dampers or implement self-sustaining oscillators.

The paper looks at two examples the Haptic Drum by Edgar Berdahl and the Cellomobo by Collin Oldham.

The Haptic Drum uses haptic feedback to control the mvoement of a drum stick. It can produce high speed accurate drum rolls using just one hand so you can use your other hand to play something extra!

The Cellomobo produces feedback as a user bows a virtual string. Both of the instruments are described in more detail in the paper.


Sormina is a musical instrument developed by Juhani Räisänen.

The aim of my project is to gain knowledge about instruments and their impact in the western classical music. My point is that the material quality of acoustical instruments has had a major effect in the development of music

Sound is created by noise generators and the instrument is used to shape the sound via eight potentiometers controlled by the fingers. The sensory data is then passed to a computer via bluetooth. Each potentiometer controls a different sound parameter, such as attack, delay, gain and effrect parameters.

DIMI Synthesizers

The DIMI synthesizers were designed by Finnish electronic music pioneer Erkki Kurenniemi in 1970. He created a number of early electronic instruments using original control methods. The DIMI-A was the first in the range standing for ‘Digital Music Instrument – Associative Memory’ essentially an early sampler. The DIMI-O or ‘Optical Organ’ displayed the musical notes via a screen and also had a video camera that could be used to convert movements into sound. The Dimi-S or ‘Sexophone’ was an instrument used by four players each wearing handcuffs and wires. Musical tones were generated as the players touched each other. The electrical resistance between the players was measured and ‘with increasing skin moisture and contact area, the intensity of the music increased’!


The Dimi-T or ‘Electroencephalophone‘ measured the EEG signals from the user’s earlobes. The signal was ‘amplified, band-pass filtered and used to frequency modulate a voltage-controlled oscillator’.

The original idea was to build four of these instruments, and let the musicians to go to sleep while hearing each other’s generated sounds. During sleep there appears in the EEG slow high-amplitude delta waves, and short duration ‘sleep spindles’. Would the brain waves of the sleeping players get synchronized? This test was never made.

The last in the seires was the Dimi-6000, an analog voltage controlled synthesizer using an Intel 8008 microproccessor. An article written by Kurenniemi ‘History of Dimi Instruments‘ which came out with a DVD called ‘The Dawn of DIMI‘. Although there are some short video demonstrations online.

Musical Rumba Table

Musical Furnishings has released a customisable musical table. The table is made up of modules which you can swap around to create a unique playing surface. Check out the old musical furnishing‘s website which has more with examples.

The Vegetable Orchestra

The Vegetable Orchestra performs music solely on instruments made of vegetables. Using carrot flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, leek-zucchini-vibrators, cucumberophones and celery bongos, the orchestra creates its own extraordinary and vegetabile sound universe. The ensemble overcomes preserved and marinated sound conceptions or tirelessly re-stewed listening habits, putting its focus on expanding the variety of vegetable instruments, developing novel musical ideas and exploring fresh vegetable sound gardens.

Pebble Box

Sile O’Modhrain has produced an interesting instrument called the Pebble Box, that uses collision theory and physical systems principles. Users interact with objects and sound is produced according to the movement between them.

Shape of Things That Hum

Eight part series made by Jacques Peretti from 2001, looking at cult electronic instruments and how they have influenced modern music.

Here are the links to each episode:

[1 – AKAI]
[2 – TR808]
[3 – TB303]
[4 – Simmons Drums]
[5 – Fairlight]
[6 – DX7]
[7 – Vocoder]
[8 – MiniMoog]

Found via post at kvr.

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