My life as a musician has had me playing instruments for quite a while. I started with the violin at 4, then the piano at 6, the guitar at 10, and the drums at 14. And while playing these instruments, relationships are formed with them. For most of my life I’ve been obsessed with guitars. There was always this gravitational pull towards them. It wasn’t just the sounds they made, or who played them. I was also obsessed with their aesthetic. Their colors. Their shapes. Their compact size, despite how powerful they are.
My favorite guitar company has always been Fender. They are responsible for the iconic Stratocaster guitar, and at this point, it has become almost a generic, albeit, classic design. The first run of them came out in 1954 and they changed the way popular music sounded and LOOKED for the rest of time. It set a standard for every single guitar design made after it. The Fender company came out with upgraded models in 1959, like the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar, which also have their super loyal fanbase. I am part of that fanbase. Although not as versatile as a Stratocaster, their unique shape and sound has earned them “the off-set standards.” The Fender Mustang was introduced in 1964 and also earned its loyal cult following.
Now it was time for me to actually make the instrument I’ve been playing all these years. My guitar design was inspired by all of these models, and thrown into the mix is the triangle, as a shape. In my fabrication class, Piecing it Together, I spent the semester designing and building this guitar.
My original sketches of the Triangle Guitar. Functionality was secondary. Shape was priority. I decided to curb this extremely triangular shape and go for something a bit more pragmatic in the end.
My first iteration of the Triangular guitar. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the shape. I was also learning how to use Fusion 360, a 3d modeling program, and ran into various detours throughout the process such as file transfers not transfering properly, having to go through Vectorworks, which was a downfall in my process, and using the CNC Machine and making a mistake in the programming, disturbing the proper measurements of the guitar.
My first 3d sketch on Fusion 360.
My second 3d sketch on Fusion 360, which became the final product. I finally worked around my mistakes the first time around. Measurements were more efficient and neat, the guitar became more ergonomic.
Foam cut on the CNC Machine.
Wood cut on the CNC Machine
Foam cut guitar, cardboard pickguard. First semi fully functional Triangle Guitar prototype. It kind of looks like a Mustang, it kind of looks like a Jaguar, it kind of looks like a triangle.
For my piecing it together final I decided to build guitar # 2. This time I was adamant about designing the body in Fusion 360, and not having to pipe the design into Vector Works. I feel like I have more control over the intricacies of the design in Fusion. I also designed the pickguard in Fusion 360, alongside the guitar body, so I don’t have to deal with the crazy geometry and measurements of it separately. I cut a prototype of the pickguard first, on the 75 watt laser cutter. The file was a DXF file exported into illustrator. The wood is basswood, although the intended material is acrylic. It came out really good, actually. The drawing on the pickguard is a work by Elizabeth White. But after the body was cut, I realized the measurements were off. The pickup holes were also too big. I’m still working on making the measurements right.
Fusion 360 Sketch.
Elizabeth White’s Drawing.
Again, I had trouble in the CAM in Fusion 360, so I exported the DXF file from Fusion to Illustrator. Then I ran the Illustrator file into the CAD. I also had some trouble with the CAD. The first cut on foam only cut the pockets.
So back to the CAD.. to get all my pockets and contours right.
Then to the CNC…
Although the back edge of the guitar got cut off, I’m happy with my foam prototype.
Here, you can see that the pickguard doesn’t fit into the bevels I made for it on the body so that it would be flush with the surface of the body.
Here is the wood body right after it got cut. The edges are harsh, but it looks right.
Guitar body after sanding. I sanded it down with a 150 grit first, to round out the edges. Then I went to 600 grit to smooth the wood out.
The pickguard will be a double sided mirror made out of acrylic, but for now it’s cardboard.
And the body will be wood, not foam.
But this is what it will look like when it’s done.
For my final in Always On, Always Connected I worked on my musical map of Latin America. Originally I intended to make an instrument, but a spontaneous drawing of Latin America in p5.js spawned the idea to make this piece. It has turned into the inspiration to my plans next year to go into an ethno-musicological study of Latin America using interactive means. What I set out to make is a visual library of beats/ educational music instrument, and I still have a lot to go in terms of functionality, but I think this is pretty strong prototype.
I set out to literally connect the dots between different beats in Latin America. What this means is to create a premodal frame of most of the beats, otherwise known as a study to find the distinct patterns between the beats, what they have in common, what they don’t have in common, and where they came from, i.e Africa, Europe, the Middle East.
I realized that in order to pull this off I would had to have all the beats and their rhythmic elements stemmed out or separated so I can create faders between different countries and able to measure what rhythmic element they actually had in common.
This is the interaction that I have for now. The beats themselves are samples of original recordings from their respective places. What I also wanted to accomplish was to have them play at the same beats per minute so that the beats can be faded in and out seamlessly, or together, depending on the functionality.
This assignment ended up being one of the more challenging ones to tackle. I was blank for a few days before I can think of conceptualizing a NEW MATERIAL. I took a trip to the ITP junk shelf for some inspiration and realized how much techno garbage was there. My first instinct was to work with it.
I also value the properties of glue. Glue is a metaphor, and that metaphor comes up in many instances, usually in artistic endeavors. It has the power to push two things together into one, cohesive entity. It was then that I decided to mix these two things together, glue and techno scrap. What came out is a glue brick, re enforced with techno scrap.
I added elmer’s glue, wood glue, blue and yellow acrylic paint and cut up pieces of techno scrap.
The glue is still a bit wet after a few days. I’m waiting for it to dry completely before taking it out of the tupperware.
For my Embodiment and Space assignment I decided to make a musical instrument. Instruments of any kind have always made us react to it via our bodies. Without our bodies we cannot play them. The instrument always demands a specific position of the human body in order to interact with it. There are instruments that demand more movement than others. A person playing the piano is sitting down peacefully (relatively speaking) while a drummer has no choice but to engage their whole body in order to execute the beat.
My instrument is a stringed instrument is made of scrap wood, screws, and rubber bands. I knew I wanted to make something with rubber bands. I’ve always played with them throughout life, stretching them between my fingers, changing the pitch with a changing tension. I constructed it standing up, with the instrument on a table, so naturally, I designed it to be playing standing up. The instrument is fairly big, about 2 feet from top to bottom and 2 feet long. This is an instrument user test . What I like about this user test is how they try to figure out how to use it and modify the rubber band tension to fit whatever sounds they are trying to convey. It was interesting to see someone else play the instrument entirely different than me, despite how simple and straightforward the instrument may seem.
In terms of its relationship to space, all instruments have a relationship. This instrument requires you to figure out how to approach it. That said, it also allows you to come at it from different angles. There are also movements involved to play the instrument that are similar to playing a harp, although it’s eccentric setup involves hand and arm motions that are a bit more action packed than a harp. More arm twisting, more jerking movements when attacking the rubber bands. More leaving it and re-approaching it from a different angle.
Aesthetically, the instrument reminds me of something between a surrealist suspension bridge and a kora. I have also been playing with a “connect the dots” concept in all my work lately, and this is by no means an exception. The rubber bands are all connected by the screws (the dots) while the bands themselves create a sort of inherent web that holds the instrument together.
My performance: marco test
Kora, a West African Stringed Instrument.
I want to explore the connection we have with the earth, in terms of movement. I want to think that, perhaps, when we dance, we are mimicking the earth’s movements. Right now I’m in the process of making a musical map of Latin America. The buttons on the map play different rhythms based on their placement on the map. My idea is to make the earth move according to the beat it is playing.
A social problem that I find troubling is the topic of smart consumption. What I mean is : I know the overwhelming majority of the things we buy come from lenient, off shore labor law situations, borderline slavery, certainly hyper exploitative. Usually, I abstain from buying something because of my reluctancy to participate in this economic model, but sometimes I try to forget about it all together when I really want something, and I try to wash my guilt with my stronger feeling, which is desire. Of course, I am also aware that this desire is consequence of manipulation, but that is a different topic.
I would like to use the clothing industry as an example. Markets like the clothing industry, where there is a disparate difference between how much things cost to make (how much people are getting paid for the clothing they make) and how much these clothes cost. Sometimes they are ridiculously more expensive because of their supposed status, and sometimes they are super cheap, because they literally cost close to nothing to make.
My solution to this problem would be to create a SOCIAL FOOTPRINT label on products. This means that there would be a label on a product that tells you, along with the carbon footprint of the product, who made it and what their wage is. This would create transparency between a company and its customers. The customer would also have a more meaningful relationship with the people that are making what they are buying. Alongside this concept, it would also be interesting to create an option for the customer to be able to “tip” the people who are making what they are buying.
Root causes: The root cause of this problem is the economic model we live in. I know this is a tricky idea. The people that are in charge of this wouldn’t want this to happen. Maybe it’s an idea that can be introduced via policy.
For my Always On, Always Connected midterm I’m on a working on music interface. My inspiration came from being able to make a tool that I can use wherever I am to hash out new ideas, or even as a performing instrument in the long run. I am using Nexus, a company that specializes in making interactive musical interfaces, and connected two keyboard interfaces with a 16 beat drum sequencer. I then connected tone.js to the keyboards, with the polysynth sound from the tone.js library. My goal is to connect all three interfaces with a common metronome so that all the interfaces can be played simultaneously.
My wireframes for Troubadour:
This is my Interface thus far:
The keyboards are functioning with sound from tone.j.s
Most of my garbage this week was food container garbage. Even more specific, it was usually pizza or smoothie garbage. Also, plenty of coffee garbage as well. Can’t forget the sugar garbage to sustain long work hours, like chocolate chip cookies and m’n’ms. One observation: It was kind of gross to see how much pizza I ate this week.
I suppose I can start by bringing home cooked food in containers, but that takes time, and time is what I usually don’t have. Maybe I can just bring a ceramic plate to the pizza place or try to buy things with minimal to no packaging. Pizza is more sustainable, though, as it comes in paper, and smoothies come in plastic. The irony is that the smoothie is better for my body, but not my environment in the long run.
There is also more waste that I used that isn’t pictured. Hygiene products, cigarette packaging, water when I brush my teeth and take a shower, just to name a few.