2017 Winners

Creator and contestant Subhraag Singh filled the room with infinite sounds with his futuristic, saxophone-like invention, the Infinitone. Singh won the first-place prize of $5,000, and shed tears of joy and excitement as he told the audience that he put his life's work into this instrument. He also said that this was the instrument's first public performance. His instrument expresses an infinite spectrum of sound, which allows musicians to make music in all musical intervals.  

FIRST PLACE: INFINITONE

Created by: Subhraag Singh | Origin: Stuttgart, Germany

As its name implies, the Infinitone is designed to let a user quickly and easily play any music interval in the harmonic spectrum at any time. It’s based on the thought that just as painters can paint with infinite colors, musicians should be able to make music with infinite varieties of musical intervals. The result is an instrument that can go as far as the imagination of the musician playing it.

SECOND PLACE: RIB CAGE

Created by: Takumi Ogata | Origin: Ann Arbor, Michigan 

The Rib Cage is an electro-acoustic instrument that gives a musician a chance to perform a duet with robotics. The performer plays a percussive tune on the "ribs," and the robotics within the "spine" listen and react to the user's performance and style of play. The instrument can be played using a violin bow, mallet, or even a hair comb. Depending on the object, the Rib Cage generates a different acoustical sound.

THIRD PLACE: SALIMBAA

Created by: Caleb Byerly | Origin: High Point, North Carolina

The Salimbaa is a fresh take on playing a stringed instrument. Made with 36 strings stretched across a steel bowl, the musician spins the instrument to play a song. Half of each string is played with small mallets, while the other half serves to resonate, creating a unique harmonic sound as it spins.

People's Choice Awards

The audience members were able to vote for their favorites, too! Each member of the audience could vote for his or her choice of best performance, most unusual instrument, and best overall instrument.  

 

MOST UNUSUAL INSTRUMENT: MM-RT

Created by: Akito Van Troyer | Origin: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

The MM-RT (material and magnet - rhythm and timbre) is an instrument built to find the music in ordinary everyday objects. Using magnets and actuators to vibrate the user's chosen items on the top of the instrument, it is capable of percussive, melodic, and textural sound. It can be played by moving the objects by hand, creating an acoustic feel - it's pretty much the closest a musician can get to touching sound.

BEST PERFORMANCE: OPTRON

Created by: Chet Udell | Origin: Albany, Oregon 

The Optron may look like a light tube from a lamp, but it combines LEDs and powerful electronics to create an instrument that is as visually striking as it is versatile. It can be played by tilting and simply moving it around, or be strummed like a guitar with a sensor running down the neck. Light and color become more than just the look of the instrument – they become new ways to make music!

BEST OVERALL INSTRUMENT: LYHARP

Created by: Ly Yang & Zak Seipel  | Origin: Platteville, Wisconsin 

The name “Lyharp” comes from the fact that the instrument is similar to a harp lying horizontally. It originates from Guzheng (Chinese Zither). One key feature of the Lyharp is that it involves a tuning mechanism where there are two pitched sections on each string that are tuned a half step apart. You can think of it as a 23-string harp guitar with 2 frets. This tuning mechanism gives the Lyharp all the notes from a chromatic scale, which enables the instrument to have a large variety of playable scales and versatility. In addition to that, the Lyharp is also acoustic-electric or solid-body electric (in two different prototypes). The acoustic-electric Lyharp has a hollow body sound box and uses piezo pickups. The solid-body electric Lyharp uses a combination of magnetic and piezo pickups. The magnetic pickups allow for the instrument to be used with a guitar amplifier and effect pedals. The piezo pickups are attached to each of the bridges on the instrument to compliment the magnetic pickups. The piezo pickups also act as midi triggers on the lowest 5 strings. This allows a portion of the Lyharp to trigger Ableton with the string vibration.

Judge's Awards

The variety of instruments made it incredibly hard for the judges to narrow the field of constants to just three places, so the judge's awards are given to recognize memorable, technical, and performance excellence.    

 

TRANSFORMATIVE INSTRUMENT: LYHARP

Created by: Ly Yang & Zak Seipel | Origin: Platteville, Wisconsin 

MOST COLLABORATIVE MUSIC MAKING: MOOG'S GREATEST HITS

Created by: Hanoi Hantrakul, Zach Kondak, & Somesh Ganesh  | Origin: Atlanta, Georgia

Moog's Greatest Hits was the first-place winner in the 2017 Moog Hackathon. It combines a drum with a Moog Werkstatt synthesizer placed in a cardboard box, allowing one musician to play to a beat while another accompanies with synthesized sound. Its combination of percussion and analog sound creates a versatile, but high musicality instrument -- especially impressive, considering it was built in only 48 hours!