The original design of the violin is a classic, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to improve upon it with modern tech.

While it looks mostly like an ordinary bow, the Hyperbow is designed to electronically measure gestures and calculate force, speed, and bow-bridge distance, thanks to accelerometers, gyroscopes, and force sensors. The bow, designed by MIT Media Lab Ph.D. candidate Diana Young, began as a way to measure different bowing techniques. But combined with MIT’s Hyperviolin, the all-electronic/non-acoustic violin also developed by the MIT Media Lab, the bow can unleash new means of making music with violins. If you’ve seen this before, it’s because Young has been working on it for several years and presenting it as it develops; the Hyperviolin for its part has been played by the likes of Joshua Bell. Here, Diana Young is pictured with Hyperbow and Hyperviolin from earlier this summer. (Photo: Donna Coveney, MIT News.)

Grad student’s Hyperbow makes music to measure [MIT News]
ASA paper abstract [Acoustical Society of America]
Video and audio clips, Toy Symphony (Featuring Hyperviolin)

So, what do you think? Innovation or reinventing the … um …. bow?

  • http://blog.saers.com Nik

    Definately cool! :-) I like the part where measuring bowing technique becomes music making :)

  • Andrew P

    Aside: The electric violin in that lower picture appears to be a Jensen Electric.

  • Clare

    Don't the sensors in the end affect the weight, making it harder to play?

  • cobalt

    Sensors are getting really, really small, but the challenge would be to make it wireless, which adds the weight of the extra circuitry and the complications of a battery.

    After using the Hot Hand motion controlled filter effect with guitar, I would imagine having sensors attach to the thing that is directly affecting the expressiveness of the instrument would be effective.

  • Andrew P

    Clare yes, having that mass of circuitry at the frog would take some getting used to, but nothing a little practice wouldn't cure. The only addition I might make is to add some mass to the tip to help re-balance the bow. It's still going to be lighter than a cello bow; probably the same total weight as a viola bow.

  • Jaime

    Wonderful! How can I do to Play with this Hyperinstruments?