On September 29, 2015, Los Angeles based company Tangible Instruments, LLC, will be launching a Kickstarter campaign for their versatile new electronic musical instrument, the Arpeggio. The instrument, which will ultimately be manufactured using an injection molding process, was developed using 3D printing technology.
Tangible was founded in 2014 by a group of musicians, engineers, designers, and artists who sought to design and create instruments for the modern day musician, with a particular focus on elements such as melody, harmony, and rhythm. By combining their many varied skills, which include interface design, electrical and audio engineering, prototyping and software/firmware development, the team at Tangible has succeeded in developing the stylish and easy to use Arpeggio.
In brief, Tangible describes the Arpeggio as being a hybrid sequencer, arpeggiator, and synthesizer with the added capability of saving hundreds of musical creations (512 to be exact!). Additionally, it is not only an instrument on which musicians can produce melodies, but it can also be synced to other instruments directly via USB, Bluetooth, MIDI in/out or CV/gate out.
Some of its other features include controls to modify note length, gate, octave, and tempo; classic and random arpeggiator modes; the ability to chain together saved musical melodies; a high quality internal speaker; and the ability to be battery powered, allowing for wireless and portable usage.
Perhaps most notable about the Arpeggio is its sleek, minimal outer design. In order to achieve the look they wanted for their new instrument, the team at Tangible turned to 3D printing technology to design and create an aesthetically appealing surface. Though the final product will be made using injection molds, Tangible enlisted the help of Shapeways and their own Mbot 3D printer to create the Arpeggio’s prototype cases, switch cover, and knob covers.
Another important factor in designing the Arpeggio was maintaining the instrument’s accessible yet versatile usability. That is, its simple, straightforward design and layout make the Arpeggio a useful instrument for those without much experience in electronic music making, even being suitable for children. Its variety of features, however, also allow for more experienced users to benefit from the instrument, as the Arpeggio can be synched to other instruments, and be used as a sequencer to control other synthesizers and sound modules.
As Charlie Lesoine, product designer and co-founder of Tangible Instruments explains, “Musicians care about inspirational design and ease of use. Instruments with inspired design inspire better music. Everyone else is designing electronic instruments for electronic musicians; their thought process doesn’t include people who aren’t yet electronic musicians. At our earliest design stages we ask how do we design an instrument not only for professionals to use but also for drawing future electronic musicians in? How do we make something that feels inviting and inclusive? No one else seems to be asking.”
As mentioned, the Kickstarter for the Arpeggio will be launched imminently on September 29th. We still do not know the amount of the kickstarter goal, but the Arpeggio will reportedly retail for $199, with the possibility for Earlybird specials on the Kickstarter page.
There is surely more to come from Tangible Instruments, LLC in terms of innovative instrument design and we are sure additive manufacturing will continue to play a role in their work. As Lemoine succinctly expresses of the project, “With intelligent software and an intuitive user interface we see Arpeggio as laying the groundwork for the kind of musical instruments that Tangible will create in the future."