Making New Instruments With Open Source Technology & Conductive Paint


Bare Conductive let us know about a new instrument, created with designer Vahakn Matossian, that uses open-source hardware and conductive paint to create a musical interface that’s designed to be accessible to physically handicapped people.

Matossian’s inspiration came from working side-by-side with the British ParaOrchestra, in the lead up to the London Olympic games in 2012. Matossian thought that, by integrating capacitive touch sensors as keys, he could create more accessible instruments.


Painting the sensors (keys) directly onto a wooden base meant the design could be easily and quickly reconfigured to suit different positions, and the code on the board can modified to allow for alternate ranges in expression and response.

The flexibility in form and sensitivity to touch, built into the instrument, means it can be used by musicians with ranging levels of mobility and strength.

Here’s a video overview of the project:

The video features John Kelly, a London musician who struggles to play chords on traditional keyboards and string instruments.

“Usually a chord is three notes, so you need at least three fingers, so that can be problematic” notes Kelly. “This device enables me to play a full chord with just one finger.”

One of the more interesting technical elements of the project is that it uses the continuous data from the capacitive sensing platform on the Touch Board to provide velocity data for chord inversion – allowing for a lot of modulation, with a small number of contact points.

You can find out more about the project, and using conductive paint for musical controllers, at the Bare Conductive site. You can find out more about Matossian at the Human Instruments site.

3 thoughts on “Making New Instruments With Open Source Technology & Conductive Paint

  1. Excellent work. I always thought synths are the best way to get more people playing music.
    But then I’m biased, maybe.

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