Sound engineering is not an easy feat. Neither is music engineering. Clarence Adoo is a trumpeter who was paralyzed from the neck down after a car accident two decades ago, rendering his arms unusable, thus playing the trumpet was going to be problematic. Seven years after his accident, an engineer named Rolf Gelhaar built him a breath-controlled instrument named Headspace. As the years passed they attempted to get the Headspace working but have now perfected some of the technology and built a new iteration named the HiNote.
Vahakn Motassian, Gelhaar’s son, was the main engineer involved with building the new instrument. He said, “Most digital interfaces lack expression. Notes are just on or off. There are no off-the-shelf truly expressive devices.” So, Motassian started a company dedicated to this field of research and development named Human Instruments.
The HiNote utilizes breath pressure sensors and a piece of software that Adoo can control and influence to make music with:
Talking to The Guardian, Motassian said: “The software has gone way up in sophistication – and that inspires me to be more creative. It will allow me to do things that I’ve never been able to do. Most importantly, it has a more natural way of blowing, so I can produce new effects.” The video shows Adoo creating some very interesting musical sounds that sound a bit like an episode of the X-Files.
“The harder you puff, the harder the notes roll,” says Human Instruments in the new video with Adoo. The engineers are hoping they could deliver a product to the music market that would enable disabled people to make music. The other technology they are working on is a sort of ‘touch board’ (see video below) that produces electronic sounds based on where the user is touching the board.
Human Instruments is one of many start-up companies that are working on musical instruments for disabled people, however, for a trumpeter like Adoo who lost his ability to play and use the trumpet, Human Instruments has breathed new life into his music making abilities with the new HiNote technology.