Self-playing musical instruments

Self-playing musical instruments

These MIDI & Arduino-driven musical instruments — a violin and a glockenspiel(?) — were created by Spanish artist Joan Vallvé as part of Sónar, a music and multimedia festival going on this weekend in Barcelona.

The “Violí MIDI” and “Metal·lòfon MIDI” are part of the project to design and construct an automated musical environment. This environment must be able to play live, and that is why it has been designed to be easy to handle, reliable, stable and completely portable. The roots of the project lie in a reflection on the use of robotics as a tool for musical composition and performance. The media and surroundings influence and determine the artist’s creative process. A new environment, a new language and a new interface will produce new creations and new musical styles. This is therefore a new format which calls into question the limits of the concepts of singer-songwriter or musical group.

Robotic instruments have so far been polyphonic percussion instruments and melodic instruments using plucked strings. Other musical timbres, registers and functions have still to be explored. On the horizon of the project is the creation of an interface adapted to the characteristics of each instrument, making the automated musical ensemble into an automated musical environment. The project is also based on constructive simplicity, the recycling of components and free hardware (Arduino), as well as the MIDI protocol due to its flexibility.

[Via the Arduino Blog]

6 thoughts on “Self-playing musical instruments

  1. J_M says:

    If you want to see some more self playing instruments, go to the House on the Rock in Dodgeville Wisconsin. They may not play in tune, but they are extra creepy.

  2. CameronSS says:

    There is something similar to this in Pioneer Village ( ). As I recall, it was on a large wooden cabinet, looked to be 1930s-era, and had an organ and a violin that operated something like a player piano. The violin had little somethings that pressed the strings in the right spots, and little electrically-driven felt wheels near the bridge played the strings.

    Anyone been there more recently that remembers more? I recall that it was awesome, but I didn’t get a chance to study it closely.

  3. approachingzero says:

    Amazing project! Just to clarify though, the string instrument being played is a cello, not a violin.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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