Accessible instruments

Much of my research sits within a general theme of accessibility and music, creating workshops for exploring sound and music using all means available; sometimes acoustic, sometimes off-the-shelf technologies and sometimes purpose designed novel technologies. The clips below are examples of assistive approaches to triggering and manipulating sound - there's just a few lines on each to give a bit of context with more detail available in the research articles they have each featured in.

Octonic (aka Benemin)

The Octonic was an attempt to create a simple but expressive non-contact instrument-like controller. It started life jokingly called the Benemin and was originally made from curtain rods using eight proximity sensors, just enough to offer a diatonic scale with all notes being playable at the same time but with independent loudness. You can play it with hands as much as forearms and potentially feet or legs. The more glamorous Octonic face-lift was given by Josh Ford, a design student at The University of Glamorgan who is now working in industrial design. It was tried and tested during workshops with the New Horizons group in South Wales, a community group with mixed challenges who were enthusiastic music-makers and completely game for trying out new technologies. We had tremendous fun.


The idea for the RhythmStick was to offer an easy to control rhythmic flow - the joystick does that with the trigger coming from a strip switch to one side. Though this is a joystick and linear sensor, the same concept can be mapped to any other suitable devices, physical switches, floor-pads, touch-screens, gyroscopic sensors in phones and so on. The basic principle was further developed into the PhraseStick ...


Again, the flow of generated notes is controlled by the position of one or two joysticks with the root pitch being selected using a grid of force sensors. Just as with the the RhyhmStick, this joystick and touch-grid combination was used to demonstrate the musical mappings and opportunities but the approach lends itself to a variety of alternate hardware interfaces depending on individual needs.