London Piano Hammers & Human Harps

How Do We Make the Roundhouse Dong?

 “A friend found the carcass of a piano on the street and dragged it into my studio one day. Struck by its beauty, I started playing with the felt hammers inside and occurred to me that this mechanism might be a good way to release the sound of the cables on Clifton Suspension Bridge. More immediately it would be a great way to play the columns of Roundhouse venue.

Researcher Louis McCallum and I got together at my studio to explore ways to design the “hammer” or as we christened it the “donger”.  Louis is currently studying for his PhD in Musical Robotics as part of the Media and Arts Technology Programme at Queen Mary, University of London.  I was excited to work with Louis as he has a brilliant background in instrument design, in particular hacking pianos!  We spent the first part of our day discussing the sounds we wanted to create and also how we wanted the donger device to look and move.  Louis then set to work building the prototype with industrial designer David Blair Ross.”