The EMvibe is an acoustic vibraphone augmented with computer-controlled electromagnetic actuators that enable the vibraphone to be “bowed” electromagnetically. The EMvibe allows for enhanced control of the vibraphone’s amplitude envelope and harmonic content and is capable of infinite sustain of up to seven pitches simultaneously. The EMvibe truly blends the electronic and the acoustic: The added hardware affords the instrument new capabilities, yet the sound remains purely acoustic.

Papers and Articles

I write about the EMvibe, two electromagnetically pianos and musical instruments in general in my dissertation, Actuated Acoustic Instrument: Relationships and Mind-sets.
I presented this paper on the EMvibe at NIME 2012.
Kurt Gartner wrote this article about the EMvibe for the September 2013 issue of Percussive Notes.

Ctenophora (2012)

for EMvibe and three laptop performers, 6:15
performance by Cameron Britt and Sideband
Ctenophora is the phylum of the alien, flashy and sometimes bioluminescent comb jellies. Like an Ernst Haeckel illustration, this piece presents sonic images of some of the possibilities of the EMvibe. The EMvibe here is accompanied up with 3 laptop performers who use tethers to manipulate samples of bowed vibraphone.

Sleight (2013)

for EMvibe, 8:30
Sleight is a more recent piece for EMvibe. In it, I tried to be very specific about how the instrument responds to the performer. The piece has a lot to do with illusion, both aurally and visually (this visual aspect obviously isn’t captured with the audio recording). I tried in places to create the effect of multiple instruments playing simultaneously by defining assigning different “effects” to different registers, or even to specific notes.


Audio Examples:

Below are some examples of the capabilities of the EMvibe.

The EMvibe as a sustainer:

Shimmering harmonics (independent control of harmonics):

Pulsing harmonics (controlling spectrum for all notes):

Octave doubling (struck notes are doubled by the EMvibe at the octave):

Using the pedal to create different envelopes:

Using mallet dampening to create different envelopes:

Preparations of the bars/resonators are really effective. This example uses a bead chain laid across the bars:

All of the above examples are initiated with a mallet strike, the instrument can sound on its own, without the mallets. The short video below shows this feature (as well as the same techniques as above with poorer audio quality).

EMvibe demo reel

The EMvibe was used to process speech sounds in Tommy DeFrantz’s dance piece Are you still busy being mad at me?, performed on Duke University’s Choreolab in March 2013. Unfortunately I do not have the audio from that yet. Below is a still image from the performance.