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Sinuous 3D-printed didgeridoo embraces the player with sound

3D printing has allowed the creation of a suite of instruments that explore the relationship between humans and the instruments we use to create music.

Scott F Hall plays the Hornucopian Dronepipe. Monad Studio

There's a curious relationship between the human body and the instruments we play to create music. We have to fit their contours into various physical configurations. Think about the intimate kiss of a wind instrument, or the way a cello leans against the player's thighs.

In the case of a brand new 3D-printed musical instrument, which its creators call a Hornucopian Dronepipe, the instrument wraps around the wearer's body, enclosing them in an acoustic embrace.

The Hornucopian Dronepipe is part of a five-instrument sonic installation called Multi. Created by musicians Eric Goldemberg and Veronica Zalcberg of Florida-based Monad Studio in collaboration with musician Scott F Hall, the collection was designed to explore the relationships between instruments and the humans who play them.

Multi consists of a 3D-printed framework that measures 5 metres long by 2 metres high (16.4 feet by 6.5 feet). Into the contours of this framework, five instruments fit into place: A two-stringed piezoelectric violin which we saw earlier this year, a one-stringed bass guitar called a Monobarasitar, a one-stringed piezoelectric cello, a small didgeridoo and the Hornucopian Dronepipe.

This, Goldemberg said, is the first instrument of its kind. Its 3D-printed construction allows it to incorporate complex, curving tunnels in a form factor that is designed to wrap around the player's body.

"The inspiration comes from pythons and strangler fig trees, both species found in abundance here in Florida," Goldemberg said in an email.

"In both the relation between host and parasite is different, but the result is very engaging when we extrapolate that behaviour to the scale of the human body and its posture during performance; the geometry of the instrument allows for multiple postures as the actual horn is wrapped in a system of roots-like handles that form an exoskeleton jacket along the length of the twisting tubes."

The sound it produces is deep and resonant, a sonorous tone that is simultaneously somber and stately (and a little on the eerie side). It's not hard to imagine the acoustic vibrations engulfing the player's body as they blow into the mouthpiece.

Listen to Scott F Hall playing the Hornucopia Dronepipe in the video below.