Advancements in Actuated Musical Instruments

Daniel Overholt, Edgar Berdahl, Robert Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
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This article presents recent developments in actuated musical instruments created by the authors, who also describe an ecosystemic model of actuated performance activities that blur traditional boundaries between the physical and virtual elements of musical interfaces. Actuated musical instruments are physical instruments that have been endowed with virtual qualities controlled by a computer in real-time but which are nevertheless tangible. These instruments provide intuitive and engaging new forms of interaction. They are different from traditional (acoustic) and fully automated (robotic) instruments in that they produce sound via vibrating element(s) that are co-manipulated by humans and electromechanical systems. We examine the possibilities that arise when such instruments are played in different performative environments and music-making scenarios, and we postulate that such designs may give rise to new methods of musical performance. The Haptic Drum, the Feedback Resonance Guitar, the Electromagnetically Prepared Piano, the Overtone Fiddle and Teleoperation with Robothands are described, along with musical examples and reflections on the emergent properties of the performance ecologies that these instruments enable. We look at some of the conceptual and perceptual issues introduced by actuated musical instruments, and finally we propose some directions in which such research may be headed in the future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganised Sound
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)154-165
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2011


  • Actuated Instruments
  • Hybrid Instruments
  • Musical Interaction
  • Sonic Interaction Design
  • sonic interfaces
  • sound and music computing
  • Sound synthesis
  • Audio og Lyd Interaktionsdesign
  • audio signal processing
  • audio-haptic interaction
  • music and movement
  • Musical instruments


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  • Hybrid Instruments

    Knakkergaard, M., Overholt, D. & Bundgaard, M.


    Project: Research

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