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shone setup action.jpg

Last May, Tristan Shone brought a couple of his Sound Machines to Maker Faire Bay Area, where I met him. As a mechanical engineer with a love of heavy metal, his instruments embody that intersection. Shone’s pieces combine engineering and art, with an emphasis on physicality, giving heavy metal much literal meaning. From his site:

Drone Machines are custom made machines fabricated from raw materials and utilizing open source circuitry. The devices draw heavily on aspects of industrial automation, robotics and mechanical tools and devices, focusing on the eroticism of interaction with machine. The machines require significant force from the performer, aligning he or she with the plodding drone and doom influenced sounds that are created.

Shone’s new body of work are his three Dub Machines, Headgear, Rack & Pinion, and Rails, shown in action above and in detail below. While he places most of the emphasis on the electromechanical design of the instruments, all three of these are Arduino-based controllers. Shone uses a USB cable off the back of each to program and communicate with Ableton Live. Check out his site for details on the fabrication and function of his works.


Ground Control Magazine shot this video interview of Tristan in his studio. You can see some of his Drone Machines in action and get a better feel for what he’s putting down:

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, check out Shone’s Drone Machines, on display at the Compact Space gallery until September 19th. Shone performs under the name Author & Punisher and recently returned from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he performed at the File Festival, an international electronic arts gathering.

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.



  1. Spikenzie says:

    For people that would like to make their own DIY musical instruments, I’ve made a handy piece of software that converts serial data (like from an Arduino) to MIDI.

    You can get it here: