trio consists of 3 handmade (by myself) wooden musical instruments controlled by an analogue implementation of a typical digital musical interface (i.e. a drum machine or sample sequencer). 

Each instrument is strung with 2 lengths of piano wire and tuned using a machine head.

Magnets, set within wooden disks mounted on small electric motors, cause the strings to oscillate when their motor is spun. This produces a drone and works quite like an eBow.

The mandolin/guitar shaped instruments have one motor per string. However the strings for the tall instrument in the middle of the trio are divide into 2 thirds and each section (a third and 2 thirds of the length) has a motor. This instrument also has a 2 internal chambers, which produce strange harmonics.

trio is played using the table, visible in the top image.

The table has a grid of 64 light sensors embedded in its surface. The user places their hands or objects over the sensors in order to activate the instruments.

  • each row represents a motor
  • each column represents a beat


Each column is sampled in turn (signaled by an LED scanning across the top and bottom of the table top). The motor is activated if the sensor is covered when it is sampled.

Users can build a series of interlocking drones and rhythms either alone or working with as many people they can squeeze around the table. The work has been designed to encourage social participation as much as a meaningful and satisfying sonic experience.



trio art Audio Art Lab

motor close up


canoe style