Noah Vawter Thesis Defense

June 10, 2011


MIT Media Lab, E14-633


This dissertation describes the research, development and reasoning behind a family of musical instruments called Exertion Instruments. They use streamlined, inline electrical generators and efficient acoustic design to completely eliminate the need for batteries and minimize the need for electrical power. As such, they combine the convenience of acoustic instruments with the flexibility of electronic instruments. Through new generator designs, nuances of player movement become as important to expression as the overall intensity of their playing. Similar to a physical resonator such as a string, the generator is played using typical musical instrument gestures. Like other electronic instruments, Exertion Instruments offer a panel of analog controls to select timbre. A modular approach was taken to ensure the construction of Exertion Instruments remains amateur-accessible, empowering future instrument builders to customize and improve the design. In addition to technical criteria based on measurements, Exertion Instruments are evaluated through player and builder experiences in a series of technical workshops and real-world performances.

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Host/Chair: (Unpublished) Chris Csikszentmihályi


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