RCA and Yamaha showcase musical instrument design

The Royal College of Art is collaborating with Yamaha to produce an exhibition of new musical instruments.

The instruments – which ‘realign perception of what music-making and performance might entail’, according to Gareth Williams, senior tutor in design products – will be showcased at the Futuresonic Festival in Manchester, opening on Wednesday.

This, the RCA’s second project with Yamaha, has seen the company work in an advisory role with students.

The designs aim to show instruments as products and highlight their performative potential. ‘Some of the designs demonstrate virtuosity and how to improve through practice,’ says Williams.

Among the nine ideas on display are Knittophone, by Azusa Murakami. Described as a ‘knitting scanner’, it reads and encodes patterns in knitted garments, which can be translated into digital form. ‘A barcode reader translates lengths of knitted fabric into notes,’ explains Williams.

Daily Tempo, a wearable instrument by students Yiting Cheng and Ting-Chung Cheng, uses, fasteners, press studs and velcro to make sound.

A musical chair, Furniture For the Musical Human, by Vahakn Matossian-Gehlhaar, will allow the sitter to vocalise sound into a microphone which can be ‘mutated’ through a joystick and transmitted through horns.

Futuresonic Festival runs from 13-23 May at Cube Gallery in Manchester.

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