Jan. 26, 2009 A video of a new musical instrument created by a Queen’s University Belfast student has attracted over one million hits on the internet. PhD student Peter Bennett (26) from Stevenage, England, made the video to demonstrate the BeatBearing - his electronic musical instrument that uses ball bearings to create different drum patterns.
The initial demonstration of the prototype has now been viewed more than one million times on internet video site YouTube.
The BeatBearing has been created as part of research into the use of ‘tangible interfaces’ for new musical instruments. The research is being led by Sile O’ Modhrain within the renowned Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s.
The BeatBearing is an example of minimalist modern design created from chrome, transparent Perspex and computer graphics.
It acts as a rhythm sequencer - a red line sweeps across the grid, playing a sound whenever a ball bearing is encountered, “like an updated version of the old piano-roll” according to Bennett.
Peter is currently studying for a PhD in the SARC at Queen’s and the BeatBearing is just one of many interesting projects in the department.
He said: “The BeatBearing project is being developed as part of my PhD. It started out as a weekend project when one of my colleagues left ball bearings lying around the lab and I wondered how you could make music with them.”
Although Peter has been bombarded with people interested in purchasing the new instrument, he hasn’t considering selling it just yet.
Instead, he has written a ‘make your own BeatBearing’ step-by-step guide to be published soon in the American magazine “MAKE”.
Peter said: “The popularity of the BeatBearing has been useful for my PhD as I can get feedback about how other people have interpreted my design.
“It will be even more useful when people start building their own and making adjustments to the original design.”
His invention is also the focus of a short film being produced by Queen’s MA film student Gus Sutherland.
Gus said: “I guess I was interested in the story mainly because I met Pete and we had similar ideas of music technology. I saw the video on YouTube and that he had developed an innovative new approach.
“I’ve had a bit of a go at it and I’ve seen footage of other people using it and I think it’s a good design. I’ve seen other designs that may not be quite as engaging visually.”
The BeatBearing demonstration video can be viewed on YouTube at: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wreP8FMupyM
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