The mellifluous sounds of the cello have been delighting ears since the 18th century, but the instrument's form has changed little over the centuries. Adhesives giant Bayer MaterialScience has a suggestion or two about that.
The manufacturer recently unveiled a futuristic redesign of the venerable stringed instrument, and has been showing it off at K 2013, a plastics and rubber trade show in Germany.
The Cello 2.0 is made of transparent, lightweight cast resin fashioned in a swirling cutaway shape that's designed to make it much more portable. But it also plays videos.
The concept instrument has some features of a regular electric cello, yet it was tweaked by design firm TEAMS Design, which describes it as "the first musical instrument with the ability to express the user's performance not only through sound, but also through visual effects on its own body. This allows the instrument and its user to interact and communicate with their audience in a completely new manner."
The neck and fingerboard incorporate "different LEDs and mini video projectors," according to a Bayer release, while "a tuning device or surfaces for video jockeying (VJing) can also be installed in the instrument. In one alternative solution, LEDS and ultraflat OLED displays could be integrated directly and used to display photos and videos."
The cello's surface can display graphics or videos, as shown in the illustration above. A pattern of light could display the rhythm of a piece the cellist is playing, for instance, or show when the wrong notes are being played.
It could also change color when its tuning or intonation is off.
"This would mean a completely new approach to training and teaching, using the visual context as an additional feedback besides the sound," TEAMS Design said in a release. "Professional musicians could benefit from a personal visual reflection of their music and enhance their live sessions."
"Many people dream of learning a musical instrument that is not only easy to play but also easy to carry around. Making music is even more fun when it is associated with completely new and special experiences," Bayer said.
The company's polycarbonate-ABS plastic blend has already been used to make a funky alto saxophone that's one of the lightest in the world, and it wants to create keyboard, plucked, and wind instruments based on the Cello 2.0.
Whatever will they think of next? I, for one, still love my battered old electric bass.