The Hyper-Kalimba

Participants: Joseph Malloch, Fernando Rocha, Marcelo M. Wanderley (supervisor)
Time period: 2007–2008 (hardware)

The Hyper-Kalimba is the result of a collaboration between Joseph Malloch and Brazilian percussionist Fernando Rocha. The instrument itself is a kalimba or thumb piano, augmented with a contact microphone and sensors for tracking the gestures of the performer. Currently the augmentation consists of:

  • 1 contact microphone
  • 2 FSR pressure sensors
  • 1 triple-axis accelerometer
  • 2 buttons

The sensors have all been chosen and placed so that they will not interfere with tradition kalimba technique, and allow the performer to make use of natural ancillary gestures involved with kalimba playing.

Performances of the Hyper-Kalimba have taken place at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 2007, The Banff Centre for the Arts, Sound Symposium XIV in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and the Festival de Iverno da UFMG in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  Embedded below are a recording of the piece A la luna for Hyper-Kalimba, and a video of Rocha performing a structured-improvisation on the instrument during a doctoral lecture-recital at McGill University.

A la luna – para Hyperkalimba by Fernando Rocha and Rocardo Cortes.