Nervebox: The First General Platform for Electromechanical Musical Instruments

Cavatorta, A. "Nervebox: The First General Platform for Electromechanical Musical Instruments"


The last 130 years of musical invention are punctuated with fascinating musical instruments that use the electromechanical actuation to turn various natural phenomena into sound and music. But this history is very sparse compared to analog and PC-based digital synthesis.

The development of these electromechanical musical instruments presents a daunting array of technical challenges. Musical pioneers wishing to develop new electromechanical instruments ofen spend most of their finite time and resources solving the same set of problems over and over. This difculty inhibits the development of new electromechanical instruments and often detracts from the quality of those that are completed.

As a solution to this problem, I propose Nervebox " a platform of code and basic hardware that encapsulates generalized solutions to problems encountered repeatedly during the development of electromechanical instruments. Upon its official release, I hope for Nervebox to help start a small revolution in electromechanical music, much like MAX/MSP and others have done for PC-based synthesis, and like the abstraction of basic concepts like oscillators and filters has done for analog electronic synfhesis. Anyone building new electromechanical instruments can start with much of their low-level work already done. This will enable them to focus more on composition and the instruments' various aesthetic dimensions.

The system is written in Python, JavaScript and Verilog. It is free, generalized, and easily extensible.

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