My aim as a researcher is to use technology and engineering
to extend the boundaries of music: create new musical instruments,
new musical sounds and new musical experiences.
My engineering toolbox consists of signal processing, acoustics,
circuit design, optimization algorithms, structural simulations and intensive lab work.
My musical toolbox consists of familiarity with multiple musical instruments,
both orthodox and non-orthodox, experience as a multi-instrumentalist player and instrument design and construction.
The Symbaline in an active instrument comprised of twelve wine glasses, excited by electromagnets. The glasses are actuated using an amplified signal produced by a traditional interface, such as an acoustic guitar. In its most classic mode, the wine glass sounds follow the guitar sound, creating a sympathetic-like effect, inspired by sympathetic string instruments like the sitar. Additional modes allow playing the Symbaline using keyboards, virtual and sampled instruments, vocals and more.
Photo: Eyal Seroussi.
Symbaline - Block Diagram
The analog signal from a traditional instrument (guitar) is routed to a PC, where it is processed with filters and audio effects, and then split into six parallel channels. Each channel is amplified by a standard audio amplifier, and routed to a serial pair of electromagnets. Each electromagnet is adjacent to a single glass, facing a small magnet attached to the glass's surface. The magnetic field produced by the electromagnet causes the wine glass to vibrate via the surface magnet, thus generating wine glass sounds. Additionally, the sound of the traditional interface may be projected acoustically or amplified and radiated by an auxiliary speaker. The resulting sound is the combination of the wine glasses and traditional instrument.
String-Wine Glass Mechanical Coupling
Several methods for mechanically coupling strings to wine glasses were developed. These methods allow the design of novel acoustic instruments which produce sounds of strings accompanied by 'sympathetic' wine glasses. Here, the vibration is transmitted from the strings to the wine glasses using a dedicated coupling bridge. The bridge was designed using topology optimization, maximizing the transmission of energy. The resulting instrument (computer model) is based on the general form of a dulcimer.
The coupling bridge was designed by material distribution optimization to maximize the transmission of energy. This bridge is laser cut from Ipe wood with maple supports. Plucking the string results in sound excitation of the coupled wine glass.
Direct String-Wine Glass Coupling
String-wine glass coupling is achieved by creating direct contact between the string and the glass. This form of coupling allows for generating sympathetic wine glass sounds using strings, without additional components. The resulting instrument (computer model) is based on the general form of a harp.
Vibrato Sloshing Mechanism
This electromechanical mechanism adds vibrato to the Symbaline's sound. A pendulum with a magnetic bob is submerged inside the water-filled glass. The pendulum is moved to oscillation by an infra-sound signal routed to the electromagnetic coil, located outside the glass. As a result of the pendulum’s movement the liquid in the glass sloshes and the water level fluctuates in a periodic manner. The water sloshing changes the resonance frequency of the glass. The glass is excited to sound generation while the water is sloshing, resulting in glass sound vibrato (frequency and amplitude modulation).
This system won the best demo award at the International Symposium on Music Acoustics 2019 (Detmold, Germany).
Photo: Noam amir.