Sound-sculptures put on an electrifying musical performance


This series of mechatronic sound-objects are inspired by Brutalist architecture.


Created by electronic musician Mo H. Zareei, RasperMutor and Rippler are a mechatronic sound-sculpture trio inspired by Brutalist architecture — a form of design that had originated from the French word for “raw concrete” and experienced popularity throughout the 1950s to mid-1970s. For this project, the Maker grouped instruments by material and sound production mechanisms into three categories.

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“As in the Brutalist buildings, these sculptures fully expose the materiality and bodily existence of their components in austerely geometric structures and repetitive modules. In order to boost the visceral and sensory experience, every single noise pulse is highlighted in synchronous bursts of fluorescent light, preserving the work’s confrontational, cold, and Brutalist aesthetics,” the Maker tells Creative Applications.

First, Rasper is comprised of a DC motor, a push solenoid, a 3D-printed plastic disk and a piece of spring steel. These components are all held together in an open-faced frame made of clear acrylic. The sound-generating mechanism is based on the surface friction between a sharp piece of spring steel and a plastic disk rotated by a DC motor, while the contact between the two is made by a linear actuator.

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For Rippler, the actuation noise of the linear actuator is amplified and transduced using a thin sheet of steel.

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Whereas in Mutor, this sound-object entails a DC motor placed housed within a transparent acrylic box along with a push-type solenoid mounted on the edge of the enclosure’s pivoting side. Through mechatronics and microcontroller programming, the DC motor is manipulated in terms of timbre, amplitude and frequency to produce varying tunes.

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All of the instruments are controlled by a custom PCB, which has been designed as an Arduino Mega shield. The Arduino (ATmega2560) itself is converted into a MIDI device using HIDUINO firmware, while communication is done through MIDI messages. Each piece of the ensemble are also equipped with a strip of bright LEDs that pulse with the music to enhance the audiovisual experience.

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Watch the ensemble in action below, or head over to the project’s official page here.

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