Brought to attention that to make an instrument (an aesthetic of the Masters course at Sonology/STEIM), you must make easy and inexpensive physical models to try out ideas of shapes, materials etc. This is called Sketching – or at least what I call Sketching. Culminating from a methodology called Cultural Probes, it initiates a flow of experiments that in the end will allow or will terminate certain strands of thought.

The technique ..’allows users to self-report.
Information gathered from cultural probes is particularly useful early in the design process.’ –


‘The intention of sketching is to separate design from the process of making.’

In the context of design, sketching is rapid, freehand drawing that we do with no intention of its becoming a finished product….sketching is a tool that supports the process of making, not the actual design itself…. Sketches should be

  • quick—Making them does not require long periods of time.
  • timely—You can create sketches on demand.
  • inexpensive—Creating them is cheap, using materials you have on hand.
  • disposable—You don’t care if sketches get thrown away.
  • plentiful—Sketches don’t exist in isolation of one another.
  • clear and use a common vocabulary—Sketches comprise simple symbols and lines.
  • fluid—They have a fluidity of line and flow that imply creativity.
  • minimally detailed—Sketches are conceptual and suggest structure.
  • appropriately refined—They communicate just enough so others can understand your intent.
  • suggestive and exploratory rather than confirming—When sketching, you haven’t yet made any concrete decisions.
  • ambiguous—You have yet to work out the details, then overlay your design on the foundation your sketches provide.

Extract taken from:

Sketch pictures up to date: will elaborate further.




IMG_5356These series of pictures elicit the simple idea of tension and strings: plucking or bowing, pitch detection and resonance through the cardboard tubing. The shorter tube was cut to initiate a feeling similar to the finger board of the cello, and the longer tube – with obvious differences in frequency resonances – was strung up with different shapes and sizes of materials to act like the bridge of the cello to elicit a tension in the strings that can thus be plucked or bowed to a variably successful first try. The shapes were held in place by the tension of the string and protruded away from the tubing so that a small vibration could be initiated through the pulling force of the fingers. Also these protruding shapes were round in order to slide across the tube to change the frequencies, and to bend them also.

The last picture was developed to hold the semi circle shape by the knees and to hold the strings tight by lifting upwards. A bow was then drawn across the strings and surprisingly obvious oscillatory frequencies were heard.

IMG_5465IMG_5464Contact mics were made to listen to the resonances.The web shaped Sketch is documented seperately.


These straws were roughly cut into different lengths, and then bound together by tape. Initially, a very simple fun construction but the results were surprising. According to our ears, when we blow over the top of the straws we hear all the different frequencies from the many lengths, indeed, you can create western scales etc from this. Also, from blowing thinly ‘close to far’ or vice versa, we hear a kind of noise attribute that expands gloriously when we blow closer, and thins out when we detract. Whilst recording this, I realised that I could not capture the essence of this sound. It is something to do with your ears and the reverberations that cannot be recorded accurately. A real shame indeed. Unless I may try the binaural headphones? Will have to see.


Heading towards the string art of the 70’s, I did a simple nail design and used string rope. Elastic bands were also tried but had too much force that brought the nails in at an angle that presented immediete loss of tension in the elastic. Rope was used in the end, but this had no usefulness insofar that I could not take any notes from it, for instrument design..yet..



Copper wire all tangled up. Shapes and geometry and swing.


Aluminium coils – discussed separately.







Steel rods bent into shape and held in place by elastic bands in varying forms.



Aluminium coils in greater freedom of direction.


The parabolic curve using very thin paper, not stiff enough to hold the shape so well.



Beautiful curve again, with stiffer card. held shape well, and when flipped to other direction – only two opposing directions – it had a nice action accorded to it.


Thin pieces of balsam or pine wood -discussed separately.

IMG_5801 1IMG_5802 1IMG_5801 1

IMG_5805 1IMG_5810 1

IMG_5807 1IMG_5808 1

The previous shapes cajouled into stretched and deformed shapes.

IMG_5811 1

IMG_5815 1IMG_5815 1

IMG_5815 1IMG_5815 1

circular motions achieved with tension through the shape and force of the elastic over my arm, which already ‘owns’ knowledge of movement through the practice of the cello.