A symbiotic instrument is a designed addition to an existing acoustic instrument utilizing its resonating capabilities, resulting in a hybrid instrument. In Summer 2017, I developed a symbiotic system utilizing strings, a tuning mechanism, bridge and tailpiece that attach to a standard snare/tom drum. This mechanism produces a hybrid percussion/string instrument that can be plucked, struck and bowed. The symbiotic instrument facilitates new sound explorations while maintaining the integrity of the drums original sound. I have also made a series of porcelain percussion instruments that can be played similarly inside a grand piano. Like the symbiotic drums, these porcelain instruments use the acoustic resonance of the piano to add a surprising new sonic dimension.
I believe that it is integral to the vitality of new music to continue pushing the boundaries of instrument design. In my undergraduate music degree, I studied the development of the stringed instrument family extensively. Later, during my architecture masters degree, I studied percussion instrument design and strategies for tuning objects. I observed that in both the lineage of classical string and percussion instruments, the designs developed in direct relation to the music performed and performance context. All of these instruments changed and evolved with the music written for them. Although the tradition of electroacoustic music continues to push the boundaries of digital instrument and interface design, the exploration of acoustic instrument design has slowed. Instruments are mass produced and sold as commodities, largely for the purpose of interpreting historic repertoire rather than for exploration. The instrument is a product stuck in tradition rather than an evolving tool. Symbiotic instruments are meant to inspire sonic exploration through design, and to engage audiences to explore sound by hearing new timbral combinations and sound textures.