Sector Culture and heritage
Services provided Planning advice
Design
Product / system manufacture
Product / system supply
Installation
Project location South East England
Client Winchester Science Museum
 
 

Challenge

Acoustic Arts was commissioned by Winchester Science Museum to design two interactive musical exhibits for a permanent educational display.

Solution

The company consulted at some length with the client to assess their needs and eventually created a metallophone and xylophone that are visually appealing, robust and accessible.

The instruments are tuned to the same key to encourage interaction between visitors and to provide an opportunity for pairs or small groups of children to perform simple tunes together.

Metallophone

The metallophone is made from repurposed industrial aluminium tubing suspended on stainless steel cables above a purpose-built display table. The bars produce a bright, sustained tone and are ideal for playing familiar melodies and solos.

Xylophone

The xylophone is made from FSC-certified hardwood, usually sold to make highly durable decking for gardens and boats. It has a softer tone compared to the metallophone but Acoustic Arts was able to amplify and enhance the sound by modifying its regular xylophone design.

Firstly, parts of the wood were carefully removed to tune the overtones of the keys. This process helps to eliminate any discordant harmonics and results in a richer and more resonant sound.

Secondly, different lengths of repurposed plastic pipe were used to fabricate individually tuned resonators which were fitted below the xylophone keys. The pipes are tuned to the same notes as the xylophone keys and resemble a set of giant panpipes. When a xylophone key is struck with a mallet, the air in the corresponding pipe vibrates at the same frequency - this is known as sympathetic resonance and significantly increases the volume and sustain of the note produced.


Challenge

Acoustic Arts was commissioned by Winchester Science Museum to design two interactive musical exhibits for a permanent educational display.

Solution

The company consulted at some length with the client to assess their needs and eventually created a metallophone and xylophone that are visually appealing, robust and accessible.

The instruments are tuned to the same key to encourage interaction between visitors and to provide an opportunity for pairs or small groups of children to perform simple tunes together.

Metallophone

The metallophone is made from repurposed industrial aluminium tubing suspended on stainless steel cables above a purpose-built display table. The bars produce a bright, sustained tone and are ideal for playing familiar melodies and solos.

Xylophone

The xylophone is made from FSC-certified hardwood, usually sold to make highly durable decking for gardens and boats. It has a softer tone compared to the metallophone but Acoustic Arts was able to amplify and enhance the sound by modifying its regular xylophone design.

Firstly, parts of the wood were carefully removed to tune the overtones of the keys. This process helps to eliminate any discordant harmonics and results in a richer and more resonant sound.

Secondly, different lengths of repurposed plastic pipe were used to fabricate individually tuned resonators which were fitted below the xylophone keys. The pipes are tuned to the same notes as the xylophone keys and resemble a set of giant panpipes. When a xylophone key is struck with a mallet, the air in the corresponding pipe vibrates at the same frequency - this is known as sympathetic resonance and significantly increases the volume and sustain of the note produced.


 
 
 
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Acoustic Arts address and contact details

Acoustic Arts
The Old Laundry
Kingswood Estate
Britannia Road
Bristol
BS15 8DB
Tel: 0117 935 2034
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