mubone project page
The mubone is an experimental class of trombones that has embedded technologies such as an orientation sensor (like the one used in smartphones). Musical instruments with sensors are commonly referred to as augmented instruments. When programmed to audio or visual processing software, augmented instruments have the potential for extending the creative range of the instrumentalists in ways we believe may offer a lifetime of exploration.
Travis West and I have been researching, developing, and creating with the mubone since 2018.
The sensor that has been a throughline in all prototypes is the orientation sensor. The device is semi-permanently attached to the tuning slide via a nut-and-bolt system and does not interfere with the playability of the host instrument (trombone). Orientation refers to an objects relative position, i.e. if it's upside-down, tilted left or right, pointing north or south.
The sensor tracks the orientation of the trombone, now mubone, and the data can be used in a number of ways. The mubone and trombone has an inherent directionality; it is always pointing somewhere. The information about where the mubone is pointing (an x y vector) is one of many data streams we can use.
Once the data is calibrated, we can use the mubone and its orientation (or movements and gestures), to control software that can be custom programmed to receive control inputs e.g. Ableton, Max/MSP. For example, I can record and playback a sound in a specific location based on where I am pointing.
solo movement and sound performance
In Garcia, I am planting (playing) trombone sounds in pre-determined zones such as ground, horizon, sky. Each zone processes the recorded sound in different ways. The result is a mix of the acoustic and processed sound, which is further manipulated by the oriention of the mubone and my movements.
For the project Conversations with Space and Architecture, the environment becomes a source of inspiration both acoustically and visually. The frame of a building can be used as a graphic score for the mubone to trace, giving the impression that mubone slide is a big sound paintbrush.
movement and sound collaborations
The mubone opens the door for working across disciplines, most notably with movement and dance. The instrument extends the body and transforms movements and velocity into sonic gestures that are capable of being spatialized in surround sound.
interdisciplinary performance art
One of the aims of the mubone is to provide a means for working in various modalities, or better yet, to be modality-agnositic. When taking an object-oriented approach to the instrument, the technology behind the mubone enables extramusical pathways towards other disciplines.
large ensemble works
The mubone and the performance practice that we are developing for it will ideally be made available to all instrumentalists and performers. We have explored creating works for mixed (augmented and traditional) instrumentation and have ambitions to work with fully augmented ensembles.
status: in progress
timeline: Nov 2023 - 2025
phase 1: fully embedded (bela) headless option
phase 2: structure-borne active acoustics
photo 1: proof-of-concept speaker bell
photo 2: prototype battery-powered bela embed
status: on hold
photo 1: trombone-aesthetic-inspired slide mounting system with universal joint; joystick, button, and orientation sensor built-in
photo 2: in operation
photo 3: retractable string slide sensor
photo 1: slide-mounted game controller like joystick with universal joint and orientation sensor
photo 2: semi-permanent mounting design
status: in use
photo 1: tuning slide-mounted orientation sensor "orientor"
photo 2: unmounted "orientor"
photo 3: Nintendo Joy-Con controller, handheld
photo 4: proprietary handheld controller, simple 3 button wifi
photo 1: slide-mouted Nintendo Wimote
photo 2: additional Nintendo Wimotes for mounting elsewhere
photo 3: early speaker-plunger prototype
photo 4: other side of speaker-plunger prototype
2022 New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME)
Paper: Early Prototypes and Artistic Practice with the Mubone
2019 International Conference on Movement and Computing (MOCO)
Paper/Demo: Mubone: An Augmented Trombone and Movement-Based Granular Synthesizer
CIRMMT, Montreal, QC (2023)
The Vino Theatre, Brooklyn, NY (2022)
IRCAM ManiFeste, Paris, FR (2022)
IRCAM Forum, Paris, FR (2022)
Record Shop, Brooklyn, NY (2022)
Le Vivier, Montreal, QC (2021)
Glass Box Theatre, New York, NY (2021)
Montclair, NJ (2019)
Spectrum, Brooklyn, NY (2019)
New York University (2019)
New York Electroacoustic Improv Summit (2019)
The Stone, New York, NY (2019)
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Thank you Harvestworks for being our Artist-in-Residence host. Founded as a not-for-profit organization by artists in 1977, Harvestworks has helped a generation of artists create new works using technology. Our mission is to support the creation and presentation of art works achieved through the use of new and evolving technologies.