Electro-Steel

Electro-Steel by Cameron Perry Fraser - Autum 2018.

The Electro-Steel is an automated instrument, consisting of four, four-foot long strings, which a large oval drum amplifies. The strings change pitch along a three-foot long leadscrew axis, where a carriage and brass slide determine the pitch. Corresponding stepper motors drive each leadscrew and each string is sounded with an electromagnetic feedback actuator. The strings vibrate, without physically being touched, by electromagnetic pulses at a frequency determined by the length and tension of each string. Electromagnetic coil pairs listen to the current state of each string and then drive the string according to that reading, creating a feedback loop. A microcontroller is used in conjunction with the stepper motors to play the instrument and the vibrations of the strings are then amplified through a wooden bridge, which sits atop a three by two foot goatskin drumhead. While these characteristics describe the automated instruments basic functionality. The Electro-Steelis not constrained by these limitations. The instrument will have the ability to play itself, searching out specific frequencies, or new frequencies might be introduced to the electromagnetic drivers to create wild new timbres. The instrument is made of mahogany, high carbon steel wire, had wound pickups and actuators and goat skin. It is to be played by computers as well as performers. It can be used both acoustically and has electric amplification possibilities as well.