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Designing a reprogrammable instrument

Published onJul 09, 2020
Designing a reprogrammable instrument

Hi there,

My name is Rafaele [BR/NL], I’m the creator of Knurl, a reprogrammable, solar-powered and hybrid cello:

Rafaele Andrade playing at Knurl: a reprogrammable and sustainable instrument

In a reprogrammable sound performance, the musician, its audience, collaborators (live coders), environment and the music instrument can manipulate and interact with definitions of code, music forms and blocks of code. All these agents interfere into the performance by compositional methods of live code music and hybrid sound systems, allowing new ways to connect sonic expression with digital dynamism.  In 2018, I started a project aiming to build an instrument that could offer and 'host' this concept.  

The main hint of this instrument is the ability to reprogram its sound and system during the performance through coding language (Supercollider). The code system is designed in a way that the internal structures can configure the sound synthesis settings (variables, conditions), its path (the in- and outputs) & schedule events.

Knurl, a 'cello' with 16 strings, is a shift into exploring the potential of hybrid instruments (acoustic-electronic) to be enhanced through built-in electronic components, as well as the potential for music to be a shared endeavour between performers, and global audiences members and its networks. Knurl is solar-powered, reprogrammable (performers and audiences can interact and manipulate) & hybrid cello. Its 4 modes of performance (Synthesis, Detection, Programming & Analogue mode) are installed in a microcontroller in a self-contained electronic circuit, (all the electronic devices are attached to it, including speakers, microphone, microcontroller, solar panels and sensors).

Through Knurl, We hope to shake up and dislodge assumptions about how music is bought, sold, commodified, shared, and experienced. Our main goal is to understand how musical instruments can be enhanced through digital systems without feeling limited. We believe that extending its possibilities but also welcoming the power of interactivity through its audiences approaches solutions to the common problem of finding a lack of engagement in classical and instrumental concerts. 

Hosted researches:

  • The future of a music album

  • Radio transmission instruments

  • Sound energy harvest

  • Solarsonics

  • Live coding

For more info:

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