Bare Conductive have collaborated with designer and musician Vahakn Matossian from Human Instruments to create an exciting new expressive digital instrument. Created using the Touch Board and Electric Paint, this instrument can be used by musicians with ranging levels of mobility and strength to compose and create expressive sound.
The inspiration for this project came in the lead up to the London Olympic games in 2012, when Matossian was working side-by-side with the British ParaOrchestra. While working with the musicians there, Matossian, who has a background in music and product design, began designing devices tailored to individuals’ physical constraints. He thought that by integrating capacitive touch sensors as keys, he could perhaps create more accessible instruments.
Working alongside the engineering team at Bare Conductive and London musicians John Kelly and Cosmo Sheldrake, gave Matossian a wide range of parameters from which to test the physical design of the instrument and iterate the code in order to get the best expressive output. Painting the sensors (keys) directly onto a wooden base meant the design could be easily and quickly reconfigured to suit different positions, or the code on the board modified to have alternate ranges in expression and response.
The flexibility in form and sensitivity to touch which was built into the instrument, means it can be used by musicians with ranging levels of mobility and strength. Kelly, a London musician who struggles to play chords on traditional keyboards and string instruments, explains the benefits. “Usually a chord is three notes so you need at least three fingers, so that can be problematic” he says. “This device enables me to play a full chord with just one finger.”