The Aperion

The Ape­rion is a new musi­cal instru­ment based on the prin­ci­ples of infi­nite sus­tain and acoustic res­o­nance. The goal of the instru­ment is to encour­age inter­ac­tion and exper­i­men­ta­tion in a domain dif­fer­ent from many con­ven­tional instruments.

The Aperion

The Ape­rion

The body of the instru­ment, built with Hon­duran Mahogany, takes inspi­ra­tion from the Mex­i­can Gui­tar­rón. It con­sists of two large res­onat­ing cham­bers and a sin­gle elec­tric bass string held in place between the bridge and the head­stock. The body was designed to res­onate at about 53Hz (or A1), empha­siz­ing low frequencies.

The Ape­rion gen­er­ates tones through the inter­ac­tion of the vibrat­ing string and body. The length and ten­sion of the string can be var­ied by turn­ing the machine heads, sim­i­lar to con­ven­tional string instru­ments, or using a glass or metal slide. The string itself can be set into motion by pluck­ing or strik­ing, how­ever the attack does not play as impor­tant a role in the tim­bre of the instru­ment as the sus­tain. The vibrat­ing energy is trans­mit­ted to the top plate via the bridge and through the sound­hole, which sets the body into vibra­tion. The string’s vibra­tion is sensed by an elec­tric bass pickup, and is then ampli­fied and fed to a mov­ing coil loud­speaker that rests above a sound­hole on the body itself. The loud­speaker remains in con­tact with the body, adding acoustic and mechan­i­cal energy to the sys­tem. The vibrat­ing body trans­mits energy back to the string, and allows it to con­tinue oscil­la­tion with­out decay, com­plet­ing the feed­back loop.

The Ape­rion has sev­eral modes of playa­bil­ity, each with dis­tinct tim­bral char­ac­ter­is­tics and inter­est­ing enve­lope sig­na­tures.  The most obvi­ous and tra­di­tional style would be that of pluck­ing and slid­ing, using a glass or metal slide. The slide changes the effec­tive length of the string and allows for sep­a­rate pitches to be plucked, strummed, or picked. Another and more son­i­cally exper­i­men­tal play­ing style is that of mov­ing the pickup along the track to extract vary­ing har­mon­ics from the string itself. The nodes and antin­odes become exag­ger­ated and clearly vis­i­ble on the string. This is unique to the Ape­rion, con­sid­er­ing most elec­tric stringed instru­ments have fixed pickup loca­tions, only allow­ing feed­back to occur in a smaller har­monic range. Finally, an inter­est­ing dis­cov­ery we found dur­ing con­struc­tion was the way our low­pass and high­pass fil­ters in the power ampli­fier affected the result­ing har­mon­ics emanated from the Ape­rion.  One can adjust these fil­ters to extract high and low har­mon­ics of the pitch to which the string is tuned.

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