Guthman Competition graphic of hands playing an instrument with lucite knobs.

The 2021 Winners

The 2021 Winners

The Guthman Musical Instrument Competition celebrates the best new ideas in music, design, and engineering. This year, 29 finalists from 15 different countries competed for prizes awarded by a panel of judges and by popular vote. Meet this year’s winners.

Top Honors

These are the world's next generation of musical instruments and the best new ideas in musicality, design, and engineering. Watch the videos below to see what these instruments can do and why our judges chose them. 

First Place: Segulharpa

Ulfur Hansson

The Segulharpa is new and unique among electro-acoustic instruments. This large circular walnut instrument holds 25 steel strings, which are "bowed" by powerful magnetic fields. Touch sensors are embedded into the grain of the wood, and as the player touches the surface, wonderfully complex interactions are created inside. Unlike traditional wooden stringed instruments, the strings oscillate from intentionally played notes as well as from frequencies of nearby vibrating strings. Inventor Ulfur Hansson said it took him seven years to finish this instrument.

Second Place: Synescope

Brian Alexander

The Synescope is an instrument that converts visual art -- colors, images, lightness, and darkness -- into sounds. It looks like a record player that plays record-shaped works of art. Inventor Brian Alexander experiences synesthesia, which inspired him to build the Synescope. Crossing perceptions, like those of sight and sound, is the key to new discoveries, he said. 

Third Place: Electromagnetic Piano

David Shea, Monica Lim, Mirza Ceyzar

This is an attachment to an acoustic piano that uses magnets to resonate piano strings. It allows a musician to sustain notes indefinitely as well as trigger notes by using interfaces other than the keyboard. Because it is a modular attachment, the Electromagnetic Piano can be applied to all the strings on a piano, just a few strings on a piano, or even to multiple pianos. This allows traditional acoustic piano sounds to play simultaneously with the magnetically generated sounds, and is a novel feature in electro-acoustic instruments.

People's Choice: Lego Microtonal Guitar

This year's most popular new instrument received more than 60,000 votes. Unlike all playable Lego guitars in the world, Lego Microtonal Guitar is the first Lego guitar with a fretboard made out of Legos. It is the brainchild of a father-son team from Istanbul, Turkey, who are devotees of microtonal traditions in world music.

The project was created by Atlas Çoğulu, Tolgahan Çoğulu, and Ruşen Can Acet. The project was supported by Selçuk Keser at Öğrenenler Workshop.


Special Citations

An undergraduate student wears a VR headset and uses a joystick.

Most Commercializable Instrument

Instrument: Orba
Creator: Artiphon
An undergraduate student wears a VR headset and uses a joystick.

Georgia Tech Faculty Favorite

Instrument: Evolano
Creator: Clark Battle

MOOG Hackathon Winners

This year's Moog Hackathon welcomed 12 student teams to a virtual format from February 12-21. Hosted by Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, these students designed and built novel musical instruments using Moog platforms and other software and hardware prototyping tools.

The Magnebacus.

First Place


Team: Mohammad Jafari, Daniel Ethridge, Sophia Mehdizadeh
A person lying on the Moog Bed.

Second Place

The Moog Bed

Team: Krish Ravindranath, Jack Thomson, Mason Mann
Hands testing sensors on the Phoenix Uke.

Third Place

Phoenix Uke

Team: Joey Steele, Evan Murray, Noah Weinstein
A student flexes his bicep in order to play the EMoog.

Most Entertaining Video


Team: Andrew Inman, Michael Mendelson, Josh Rubin
Hands tune a Moog board connected to a paint program on a laptop.

Most Collaborative Instrument


Team: Ian Clester

Get the Inside Scoop on Music Technology

Learn about our Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, the inventors we feature every year, and the music technology research and degree programs at the Georgia Tech School of Music. We will inspire your creativity and expand your perspectives on music!

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At the Georgia Tech School of Music, our students combine technical skill with exceptional music talent to truly change the way the world experiences music. Learn more about our bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in music technology, our pre-college summer studio, and our innovative research labs.


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