Quadrivium

Project EnsembleBot is a computer-controlled electromechanical ensemble of a lot of more-or-less homemade musical instruments. This website chronicles the design and building of Project EnsembleBot. The project has already run for years, and will continue for years to come. So, do come back for updates!

Read about the project by following the links to the left or below (depending on your browser).

PROJECT ENSEMBLEBOT

Project EnsembleBot is all about designing and building a small ensemble of homemade, computer-controlled and electromechanical musical instruments. It’s purely a hobby project on a very low budget and with no ulterior motives, except to make strange contraptions and play weird music.

So far, EnsembleBot consists of a glockenspiel, tubular bells, pipe organ ranks, percussion and much more. Read much more about the project and the instruments by following the links to the left or below.

CONTENTS 

PROJECT OVERVIEW

An introduction to the Quadrivium EnsembleBot, its basic parts and how they all fit together. This would be a good place to start, if you’re interested in the technical stuff. See also our page on  microcontrollers used in the EnsembleBot project.

MASTER CIRCUITRY

The heart of the EnsembleBot is a large circuitry placed on the backside of a small cupboard. This is the central hub from where all commands are sent to the individual instruments.

TUBULAR BELLS

This is out first finished instrument. A surprisingly well functioning set of tubular bells, built from metal clothes rods cut to specific lengths and cheap solenoids.

GLOCKENSPIEL

Based on a cheap 27-note children’s glockenspiel and a lot of small solenoids, we built a nice robotic glockenspiel that has proven very reliable.

PIPE DREAM 24 [defunct]

Though now replaced by newer and better organs, this test organ was a very important prototype and proof-of-concept. Much of what we learned from building this organ, formed the basis for all the later organ projects.

PIPE DREAM 61

This is the “large” organ. Based on a full 61-pipe diapason/prinzipal rank, it was quite a challenge to build. It was a built as a direct descendant to the PipeDream24 test organ, though an improvement in almost every aspect.

ZIMBELSTERN

No self-respecting baroque organ would be without a zimbelstern. The zimbelstern is one among several special sound effect devices often used in larger organs, and its purpose is to evoke some kind of celestial feeling or counterpoint.

PIPE WIND

Pipe organs need air and lots of it. To supply air for our  organs, we built our own blower systems reserviors, pressure regulators and more to ensure a steady air stream and constant pressure.

PIPE MARE

The PipeMare project is actually several projects in one. It’s a cupboard housing two pipe organs and a rebuilt accordion. Read more:

ROBRO

A very cool project, that has been giving us headaches for several years. It’s a robotic slide/steel guitar that has been vary challenging to build and program. It was one of the first instruments we began designing, and it still isn’t working properly.

PERCUSSION

The EnsembleBot also has a growing number of unpitched percussion instruments. So far, we onyl have a snare drum, cymbals and a tambourine, but there are more to come.

RADIO-CONTROLLED BELLS

A planned project to make small, independent, battery-driven, devices to play tuned bells, controlled by the EnsembleBot though radio control modules.

OTHER IDEAS AND PLANS

Plans and dreams of other instruments, improvements and additions to the EnsembleBot.

WHAT IS QUADRIVIUM?

Quadrivium is the study of the four liberal arts: Music, Astronomy, Arithmetic and Geometry.

These arts are employed directly in the EnsembleBot project, either directly or indirectly. Music is obvious, and designing and constructing the physical instruments use both arithmetic and geometry. But what about astronomy?

One of the goals with the EnsembleBot is actually to generate music from celestial phenomena, whether based on actual astrophysical or cosmological data, or based on numerical models of astrophysics or theoretical cosmology. But first we need a working ensemble.

WHO ARE WE?

We’re a very small group of people behind the Quadrivium EnsembleBot. One is in charge of advanced programming, MIDI interfacing, the EnsembleBot protocol (EBP), and a hardcore Bach fanboy. Then we have an external consultant on matters of theoretical astrophysics and advanced solutions to Einstein field equations. Finally, we have myself, humble designer and builder of the instruments and editor of these pages.


Next: Go to the Project Overview

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