Space & Innovation

3D-Printed Instruments Rock Out

Sonic art installation features fully functional musical devices inspired by classical design and nature.

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This isn't your father's chamber ensemble. An inspired mashup of music, technology and design, the sonic art project known as

MULTI

features five 3D-printed instruments along with a sonic wall that serves as band shell and instrument rack. Above, the one-string electric travel bass guitar, or monobaribasitar.

The MULTI project is a collaboration between designers at Florida architecture and design house

MONAD Studios

and musician/luthier Scott F. Hall. The design of each instrument, required three to six months, including this two-string piezoelectric violin. In case you're wondering, piezoelectric is standard in electric guitar pickups. It's the tech that translates the vibrations of the strings into music.

Each instrument was designed by Hall in the spirit of formal minimalism, but also built to produce sounds that closely resemble those made by each respective source instrument. Above, the one-string piezoelectric monovioloncello.

The Hornucopian Dronepipe is the larger of two instruments based on the didgeridoo, a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians more than 1,000 years ago.

The MULTI sonic art installation debuted at Javits Center in New York City during this year's NYC Design Week. The wall behind the performers serves as band shell and instrument rack, and also produces its own droning sonic environment.

While some of MONAD's wind instruments are 100 percent 3D-printed, most require off-the-shelf components like strings, bridges and tuning gears.

Design for each of the instruments in the MULTI project was inspired in part by native plant life around MORAD Studios' Miami, Florida, headquarters. The violin took about 10 days to print.

In an earlier interactive installation, called Abyecto, designers 3D-printed a sonic mural and a 3D-printed guitar (an earlier version of the monobaribasitar) that fits into the wall like a puzzle piece into a puzzle. While the musician plays, handheld transducers activate the mural, turning it into a speaker.