The Hyper-Kalimba

One of my main goals for the summer is to catch up on some documentation of past projects, updating webpages, editing and posting photos and videos, etc. This time the documentation is a video of Fernando Rocha performing on the Hyper-Kalimba, an augmented instrument we have been working on for around a year now.


Fernando and I have worked together before (on the T-Stick and Digital Orchestra projects), and he approached me for some instruction in Max/MSP programming, which he required for another project he was working on. He came up with the idea of using a kalimba he owned as a tool for exploring audio signal processing. Since the kalimba already had a contact microphone installed, it was simple to connect to a computer, and was obviously more portable than many of the other percussion instruments he plays.

After working with the kalimba for a while, we decided to begin augmenting it with some sensors for controlling the parameters of Fernando’s Max/MSP programming. We were careful throughout the process to avoid interfering with tradition kalimba technique, and added new sensors slowly, allowing time for evaluating the impact of each change before moving forward. Currently, the “Hyper-Kalimba” contains FSR pressure sensors, a 3-axis accelerometer for tilt and acceleration, and 2 buttons, in addition to the contact microphone.


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