Arc Attack has held a special place in our hearts for a long time. There isn’t much that beats high voltage blasting through the air to make awesome music. Every time I’ve seen them I’ve been blown away, and I’ve learned something. If you’ve only seen their youtube videos, you may not know that Arc Attack is an educational group. They travel around and put on shows for groups, typically schools, to teach some science principles to kids using awesome electricity and robots (the drummer is an awesome robot with witty dialogue).
The two brothers who are the core of the group have been hard at work on new experiences to add to their show. They had teased that they were adding something with a very different twist to their reportoire. This system will be used to explain a few things like scales and air pressure.
In this video, taken in Arc Attack’s workshop, we see that the new instrument will be centered around tubular bells. They chose the Hungarian minor scale because it sounds awesome and will help them avoid sounding “Christmasy”, something that would be common if they used a typical major scale.
The system uses air pressure to blast a “puck” up to the chime. This makes the sound and falls back into place, waiting for its next note. They said that, while it is loud in this video, they’ve silenced the return motion so that people watching the show don’t hear it.
This wasn’t as simple as just plopping some midi control on the valves. If they had done that, the notes would come in late. They actually wrote a program that processes the midi files to compensate for the delay. This allows the puck to hit at the exact moment that it is needed in the music.
Hopefully we’ll get a nice video of a full performance soon. Until then, here’s a gallery of the new instrument construction.