Those clever people at Goldsmiths, University of London, have been at it again.
Not content with producing new insights into music psychology, top brains at the university have combined to invent a stringless guitar which, only a week after launching on Kickstarter, has almost achieved its £30k goal, currently having raised over £21k.
The 'Kurv' is a digital guitar that allows anyone to learn and play songs using touch, motion and gestures.
Using research from Goldsmiths, the device combines advanced music synthesis software, sensor technologies and machine learning to not only emulate the guitar, but herald a new level of musical expression.
The Kurv consists of two parts – a button board where you press chords and notes, and a pick. The pick contains a sensor that recognises strumming movements, just like playing a normal guitar.
It comes with an app for iPhone or iPad, which connects via Bluetooth and can be used to change the sound from acoustic to electric to bass guitars.
Dr Mick Grierson (Goldsmiths Department of Computing), the Kurv's co-founder says: “For the first time, we can run advanced music synthesis engines on your mobile phone. When you combine this power with wearable technologies and machine learning, you can develop new musical instruments that were considered science fiction only a few years ago.”
The guitar is one of the most popular and best selling musical instruments in the world, but learning the instrument takes time, commitment and is tough on the hands. The design of the Kurv started by looking at the ergonomics of hands.
Plans are afoot to enable the Kurv to be used to play more than just the guitar - a software development kit is being released to include more instruments, such as the snare drum, viola or even the exotic Indonesian angklung.
Dr Mick Grierson’s work on the Kurv forms part of a long-term Goldsmiths-led and European Commission-funded project called Rapid Mix – a consortium of computer scientists devoting years of research to the design and evaluation of wearable human-computer interfaces in creative fields such as computer games and music. He’s also the research lead on SoundLab, a project testing out which digital music devices and apps can help people with learning disabilities make the music they want to make.
Kurv is available on Kickstarter now with early bird prices starting at $179.