The Modular Music Box, by monomatic, consists of several interconnected, plug-and-play devices that collectively reproduce the functionality of the familiar 19th century clockwork musical instrument.
Here’s what Monomatic has to say about the Modular Music Box:
At the heart of the piece is a custom-made electro-magnetic rotary sequencer. Melodies are stored on a series of interchangeable, acrylic, 10” disks embedded with small magnets arranged in a regular circular grid
In the same way vinyl records are located on a turntable, these disks are centered on a spindle and rotate over a ‘play head’ made up of a line of magnetic field sensors – effectively replicating but superseding the set of pins on the revolving cylinder that pluck the tuned teeth of a steel comb in the traditional device.
Additional units are ‘daisy-chained’ to each other via single cables and include a self contained and controllable sound source (to hear and effect the musical output) and an animated representation of a dancing ballerina automaton – realized as a modern-day interpretation of the praxinoscope.
Inspired by the design of the second generation monome controllers these modular components draw on their minimalist design aesthetic and utilise a similar restricted material palette of walnut, brushed aluminium, translucent acrylic, and orange LEDs.
The work explores exhibition themes such as the ‘materialisation of data’, ‘the tactile digital’ and the ‘invisibility of technology’ while attempting to recapture something of the sense of craft and workmanship, refined aesthetics and genteel appreciation of the iPods of their day – refocused through the minimalist design aesthetic and tactile ergonomics of the monome.
The Modular Music Box is an attractive work, an interesting design, and further evidence of the influence of the monome.
This makes me interested in seeing more experimentation with electromechanical modules that would integrate with modular synthesizers, too.
Check out the Modular Music Box and let me know what you think of it!