New musical inventions – DMLabChallenge North West

After a lively DM North West Challenge Collaborate #1 gathering with James Medd at Eagle Labs last week on Saturday 18th Feb (see previous blog post by Gemma Nash), this Sunday afternoon session at The Picturehouse Café/Bar was an opportunity to get stuck into the commission proposal itself, and play with some new musical inventions and existing instruments.

A maker and musician side by side looking at some music tech with lots of wires

Makers and disabled musicians worked in teams to flesh out what they could develop and produce within the framework of this exciting opportunity: to develop a bespoke musical instrument or adaption to a musical instrument that would be delete a barrier that a particular disabled musician has been experiencing.

Diagrams, sketches and notes were in full flow as the collaboration began in earnest.

Makers, musicians and the Drake Music team brought along some ingenious inventions and existing instruments.

This included Chris Ball’s Sensilo universal midi controlled synth with a variety of methods of control – for example a touch pressure sensitive button and an Y axis theremin style sensor.

And Mike Cook (aka Grumpy Mike, the Arduino/Raspberry Pi dude) set up a few of his inventions, including a little Raspberry Pi computer with its own mini tablet screen that ran a Pringle box sample trigger set and a free jazz light/sound application.

We also looked at a few already existing instruments such as the Kaossilator, the Air Synth and a couple of midi controllers to explore the pros and cons of the accessibility of these music making tools for the disabled musicians present.


Altogether a pleasant, yet thoroughly productive, way to pass a Sunday afternoon, with exciting bespoke music tech solution proposals being formed, as well as strengthening a community of maker and musos based here in Manchester.

Caro C is a Drake Music Associate Musician based in Manchester and a composer, producer and performer of electronic music.

Leave a Reply