The Halléoojamaflipaphone - a symphony of science and art
Fall under the spell of the Halléoojamaflipaphone – a new musical instrument invented and built at the University for the city's Hallé orchestra.
From our apprentices who designed and built its components to the Hallé Orchestra who will use it in their work with schoolchildren and dementia-sufferers, the Halléoojamaflipaphone - as wild and wonderful as it sounds - will excite and inspire.
The tongue-twisting invention is a meeting of engineering and music: a group of mechatronic instruments that play acoustic music, responding in real time to a score coded into a digital format by electrical engineer and PhD student Hassan Hakim Khalili.
The instruments can respond to any score, from Beethoven to hip hop. They include a V8 engine block whose eight pistons shake eight cans containing different materials to create eight different sounds, built by technical apprentices Jake Cartwright and Jacob Skelly. Meanwhile the snare drum, with its drumsticks hovering over the drum skin from a motor, can play a beat faster than any human.
Even its conception was unusual. Peter Green, Senior Lecturer in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the Hallé's Education Director Steve Pickett formed the idea as they commuted to work on the train.
Engineering and the arts just came together. They're so different – Steve and I talk almost in different languages – yet we have created this. The apprentices have been front and centre of this and are great ambassadors for the University, while Hassan is now mentoring our own staff because of his expertise. To see what the Hallé can do with it, the social benefit, there's an extra buzz to that.
Peter Green, Senior Lecturer in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Steve, who has composed 'Bolero Does the Blues' especially for the Halléoojamaflipaphone with bassoon, French horn, violin and cello, agrees. He explains: "Twenty-thousand kids play with our orchestra every year and another 30,000 take part in the wider Hallé Education programmes. Some of these kids are disengaged, struggling, but we bring them together and they're amazing.
"The Halléoojamaflipaphone could revolutionise our education programmes and possibly others at care homes and prisons, with more instruments being added every year. The impact will be colossal. This is no one-hit wonder."
Jake and Jacob's first two designs didn't work but it all came together on the third attempt. Jacob recalls: "When it finally worked, when we got that sound, it hit home – we made this. In many years' time it could still be going!"
Hassan agrees: "You test the code and hear the drum or the tubular bell. Do I play music? No! But that's the beautiful thing – you can still create music."