The Violina is part of the Stella Artois Chalice Symphony. It plays music by bowing tuned Stella Artois chalices with a circular bow of Mongolian horse hair. The player can play any combination of 18 chalices and quickly adjust the pressure and bow speed to create many voices and nuances.
This video preview was produced by Stella Artois.
The Violina is named after the Hupfield Phonoliszt Violina, a violin-playing orchestrion from a century ago. I took inspiration from its ingenious circular bow.
The Horse Wheel
The photo below is of the first horse wheel prototype. Our first prototype looked like a woolly mammoth and sounded a bit like one, too. As usual, Karl has taken my design and refined its proportions to make it more beautiful. The sandwiched maple and aluminum provide two types of strength. The holes will be filled with piano tuning pins which are used to stretch the short segments of horse hair.
Within each of the three Horse Wheels is another structure called the Glaive. Each holds six tuned chalices and six small motors to bring each in and out of contact with the bow.
The Counter Rotation
Each Horse Wheel and Glaive spin in opposite directions. This uses the momentum of the Horse Wheel to maintain steady bowing as pressure changes. And rotating the chalices as they play creates stereo phasing effects and a small Doppler-based vibrato.
This video shows the counter rotation before we added the chalices.
Learning to Bow
Even after many tests and prototypes, we were still learning about the acoustic possibilities of the bowed chalice. Here is our very first test with the new wheels. We did eventually find much sweeter voices in the chalice.
The Finished Violina
I am forever grateful to these kind and ingenious people for all of their assistance:
Karl Biewald – Mechanical Engineering and Fabrication.
Matt Nolan – Chalice Tuning
Marina Litvinskaya – Fabrication and Fine Detail
Laura Wickesberg – Electronics and Wiring
Nicholas Joliat – Software
Andrea Lauer – Set Design
Devin Budney – Fabrication