Music of the composer Harry Stafylakis is described as “an amalgamation of the classical music tradition and the soul and grime of heavy metal”. The integration of 3D printing will create a new sound that will bring concerts to a new level.

On November 4th, at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra will launch its new season.

As part of the show, participants will discover a performance dedicated to the winner of the orchestra’s National 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge. The latter aims at fostering improvements of instruments used by musicians and the issues they might have in their use.

In addition to improved instruments, the 3D String Theory Project enables musicians to explore new possibilities of creating sounds thanks to new technologies.

“Instead of making just small, medium and large, you can make it exactly the size a person needs. In the same way, a larger person could have a violin made that’s slightly larger,” said Frank Defalco, Manager of Canada Makes.

Eight instruments will be 3D printed:  two violas, four violins, and two violoncello da spallas.

The first test of a 3D printed violin by OSO Concertmaster, Mary-Elizabeth Brown demonstrates a sound which is very different from the sound she is used to make with her 8th-century Italian violin.

It was a different kind of soul, said brown. I got the sense that if I spent some time with it, I might not be able to make it make the sounds that my Italian instrument makes, but that I would be able to find a wide range of colours that would allow me to be expressive.”

Lastly, it should be noted that these makers intend to create their new instruments using low-cost 3D printers. To achieve new sounds, the choice of materials will be crucial in the production of these new instruments. Indeed, 3D printing often requires the use of materials such as plastics, metals and polymers. However, in this case, musicians are more attracted to the resonance of wood.

I think there’s probably nothing better than wood in certain areas,” admits Frank Defalco, manager of Canada Makes, a national network of private, public, academic and non-profit groups dedicated to promoting additive manufacturing in Canada. Whether there are materials that can get close to the levels of wood, I’m sure they’re getting close with polymers.

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