Micro cylinders are music to the ears

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

Musician Roland Olbeter has developed a small orchestra of instruments that are actuated by small pneumatic cylinders

The ‘Sound Machines’ comprise guitars and a drum. In the guitars, two plectrums of different thickness are manipulated by a circular cylinder to pluck the strings. A series of 21 micro-cylinders emulate the musician’s left hand and establish the pitch of a note by stopping the string at a certain length. The frequency of vibration of the string that has been struck is recorded, converted into continuous vibration through voltage reversal and returned to the string, so that the note may be played for as long as required. The pressure hoses and valve terminal are located on the outside of sound pipes. In the drum, micro cylinders operate various drumsticks and a jazz brush. The vibration of the skin produced by the drumsticks is also electronically registered and reinforced.
Sound is received and amplified by electronic pickups, as in an electric guitar. It is then processed by analogue filters, compressors and equalisers. Each machine has its own dedicated synthesiser for further sound mixing. The sound tubes of the guitars are made of aluminium, and the cylinders and fine machinery for sound production are made of chromed brass. The micro cylinders are type EG-4-20-PK-2; the round cylinders DSEU-8-10-P-A-MQ; and the valve terminals CPV-SC. The drum cylinders are type EGZ-10-10.
The project is supported by Festo and Siemens.

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