Thursday, February 2, 2017

Shbobo Shtar

I'm working on the "Shtar," for Shbobo. This string instrument connects frets to an ARM Cortex to generate computer music sounds and effects for combination with the strings.

I've been making string instruments since seventh grade wood-shop, when Mister Scango enabled me to use the band-saw with an awareness for safety first. Obsessed with ancient Latin and Greek, I wanted to build a lyre, but I had no tortoise shell, so I built the more esoteric, kithara. An Altavista web-search for "kithara" yielded Harry Partch's tome, which taught me tuning, but I never produced stringed instruments for business.

Also on a late-nineties Altavista instrument search would be Lark in the Morning, a San Francisco music shop specializing in strings from around the world. Yearn for a cumbus–a potbelly African banjo–or admire the mulberry body of the Persian tar. The shtar employs an equation called the Eight Curve (or lemniscate of Gerono) to sculpt a computer-age tar body.

The tar-body is interesting because it has two chambers. The larger one supports and resonates the bridge, but the smaller one also senses pressure gestures. Knobs are customary for the classic electric guitarist– add those too.

Back to tuning–the shtar shall divide the octave into seventeen equal parts, for 33 total frets. Fourths, fifths and octaves have the customary pearl marker as power spots. Neutral seconds and thirds also have a marker for modal playing. Three strings–a fifth for strumming and an octave for soli. 

The fret-board is the circuit-board. I hope to bend brass wire frets to solder into the board. Hope it works! Think it will! If it does then the ball's in the park! Look forward to see more!

Meters to Inches

I love this topic and I plan to hit it up as often as possible. The general jist is that a foot has twelve inches, which gives you thirds and quarters, while the esperantoes at metropolis gave you this dainty measurement that only factors by quints.

I grew up with inches so I naturally think in them, but if I ever need a scarlet wildcard, I will whip out the centimeter. I guess I have learned to live comfortably with both and their irrational relationship! In the shnth, I factored the barres as a dainty centimeter rather than the studworth half-inch. On the shtar, it looks like we'll be using 2mm brass rod for the frets.

Thinking about brass rod (btw the chapman stick uses rod frets). Eighth inch was too thick, and 3/32 too. 1/16 was wonderful to work with but I would worry about it's long term stability. I already use 2mm for a fine engraving bit on the CNC so it wasn't too much of a stretch to specify it as the perfect compromise between mass, workability, and stability.

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