Musical instruments from trash

Sirish Satyavolu talks about upcycling trash to build musical instruments

June 05, 2018 03:17 pm | Updated 06:54 pm IST

Sirish Satyavolu

Sirish Satyavolu

While many music enthusiasts switch to better paying conventional careers, some take up mainstream music, and a few like Sirish Satyavolu pursue music technology and the art of building instruments.

The 27 year-old instrument maker has made four original instruments, both acoustic and digital. Sirish’s journey towards music has been a long one — He was a budding songwriter and singer in school, then took up mechanical engineering and later quit his job to pursue his love for music.

Talking about his instruments, Sirish enthusiastically pulls out sketches of an instrument that’s bound to trigger curiosity. Trebler, the first instrument designed by him, was inspired by the architectural structure of Bank of America tower in Georgia.

While most instruments are single player instruments, Trebler is a multiplayer circular guitar that has five octaves and 12 strings of varying lengths. The conversation gets interesting as Sirish talks about his new concept, a music-making paradigm called the ‘Human DAW’ where all the parameters required for making music will be derived from the human body.

“In the human DAW, the BPM — the heart rate decides the tempo of the song, and the sensors on your fingers that help change track using gestures,” adds Sirish. While they are patented with Georgia Tech, the concepts and instruments designed by this instrument maker come as a breath of fresh air.

‘Collab House at Out of the Box’ is currently working with Sirish towards upcycling trash to music playing instruments. This includes a series of meet-ups starting this Friday where people can come together, collect trash, design instruments and bring them to life at an in-house session .


Talking about this initiative, Sriram Kakarla, curator at ‘Collab House at Out of the Box’ and founder of the ‘music from trash’ initiative says, “Upcycling is a growing trend and through this session, we want to make people aware about the trash they are creating. We tried making the trash version an instrument, Kalimba; it didn’t meet out expectations, and that’s when we approached Sirish.”

The ‘Music with Trash’ session will introduce the concept and focus on collecting trash and working on the designs. “There is a lot of trash to look for when you want to make instruments. Hollow boxes serve as resonators, pencils or wires to trigger and membranes that can be as simple as a cardboard sheet,” adds Sirish.

Instruments made from trash generate sound like traditional instruments but they look different and are played differently. One of the instruments Sirish is excited about creating is a 12-note bottled piano. “It sounds like a piano but it doesn’t look like one and you can’t play it with your fingers.”

Emphasising the importance of such workshops, the instrument maker reveals, “When someone learns to play his first guitar, he starts from a processed instrument. But once he/she has an understanding of how the instrument was built, the philosophy of music becomes clearer.”

(‘Music with Trash’ session will be held at Collab House at Out of The Box in Green Park Hotel this Friday, June 8, 5 30 pm to 7 30 pm)

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