The Tine Organ

The Tine Organ is a MIDI controlled portable acoustic organ.

Although it sounds like a pipe organ in a cathedral, the sound producing mechanisms are very different. Instead of pipes and a wind chest, it uses electromagnets and steel tines to produce 20 chromatic notes, starting at middle C, with full polyphony.

Each tine is coupled with an electromagnet that outputs PWM at its fundamental pitch. The pull and release of the tine by the magnet causes a sustaining effect.

The soundboard under the bridge is mahogany and the body is made of bubinga. Inside it houses a small Arduino micro-controller that accepts MIDI input that controls 20 polyphonic software oscillators (like 20 function generators). These are stepped up to 30 volt pulses via 3 ULN 2803 Darlington drivers to the magnets.

via Matt Steinke

16 thoughts on “The Tine Organ

  1. I wonder if different waveforms could be produced by having tines in different shapes. This example sounds like flutes on a pipe organ. Maybe other pipe organ timbres could be produced as well. If so, a multi rank organ could be designed.

    1. Different shapes of tines would still produce the same waveform – sine waves. With multiple sets of tines at the appropriate lengths you could generate additional harmonics to create other wave forms. A triangle wave or square wave would probably be easiest to generate, as it would require only odd harmonics, whereas a sawtooth wave would require twice the number of tines, as it is constructed of even and odd harmonics. Here is a good visual representation:

      This is an awesome instrument, a harmonic array version would be very interesting! It would be considerably larger than this version, of course.

      1. Sure, it you have a thicker piece of metal you can get some incomensurate (non integer ratio) harmonics and it would sound different – like bells, metal xylophones. Problem is that it will be harder to drive those with a magnet. They’ll be thicker pieces of material. Which is why we hit bells with mallets.

  2. it seems like there are a lot of people coming up with innovative MIDI instruments as DIY projects. It would be wonderful if more of these could make it into production, even as limited run instruments. This is very cool, and there was a recent post on Synthtopia about a MIDI-controlled device that played the strings on a piano harp that sounded amazing also.

  3. It’s great for calliope and parlor organ sounds. If there were only a way to harmonically develop lower frequencies for those 16′ and 32′ registers. Then you’d have something with substance.

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