Music Composer 3D prints unique flutes that play new sounds –



Have you ever stopped and thought about the individual musical notes that make up our favorite songs? What if the piano keys don’t sound exactly the way they actually do? What if there was a way to bridge the gaps between individual musical notes, providing us with new sounds that could help us create new forms of music? All of these questions tormented Terumi Narushima, a music composer and researcher at Wollongong University, so much so that she turned to 3D printing for answers.

For several years, Narushima has been working on creating flutes that can play different sounds; sounds that are not among the 88 piano keys of a standard piano. For those of you who don’t know, each key on a keyboard is only one “semitone” away from the one next to it. While many people think that a semitone is the smallest incremental change in sound possible, it actually isn’t.

“When you go to school and study music, you are told that the smallest possible interval is a semitone,” Narushima explained. “But I’m interested in the kind of notes you can get that fall between the cracks in the piano keys. Much of the music in the world doesn’t fit into these nice, neat stages. “

These “other” sounds are called microtons and are not found on the traditional 12-tone scale found in the Western world. When instruments are made, they are usually made with this traditional 12-tone scale in mind. When you buy a flute from your local music store, you can bet your last dollar that it will be based on this popular scale. What Narushima wanted, however, was a way out of the ordinary and find a solution to playing sounds that are usually not heard. It was then that she resorted to 3D printing.

(Image source: Edwina Pickles)

“Rather than telling us’ OK, here are the available tunings’, we might like to be able to say ‘What tuning would you like on your instrument? We will offer you a 3D model that we can print for you or that they can maybe print at home, ”Narushima explains. “If you change one parameter in the design, it ends up affecting everything else. Compared to the acoustics, for example, of violins, which we have a very good understanding of, it seems that with wind instruments like flutes there is still a lot of trial and error.

3D printing allowed Narushima to create flutes that play microtonal notes that the typical flute or other instrument cannot. This means that her flutes are capable of playing completely new types of music, songs that would not have been possible without the changes she makes in the design of her instruments. 3D printing provided him with a way to do this, as the technology allows for changes to the shape of these streamers in ways that traditional manufacturing is not able to achieve.

(Image source: Edwina Pickles)

(Image source: Edwina Pickles)

Regarding the potential offered by the combination of 3D printing and instrument making, Narushima believes that this same technology can also be used on larger wind instruments such as trumpets and saxophones. It will also make it possible to manufacture instruments specifically for the musician who will play them.

It will certainly be interesting to observe how Narushima’s instruments will be used in the years to come. Maybe one day soon we’ll see more mainstream artists creating works of art like we’ve never heard before, thanks in part to Narushima and 3D printing. What do you think about this idea? Chat in the Forum 3D printed microtonal flutes thread on


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