'The Dharma at Big Sur' written by contemporary composer John Adams, is a sometimes lulling, sometimes violent piece that requires a violin to enter cello range. That is two strings extra: low F and low C. An electric six-string like instrument that is extremely expensive and rare.
Sean Riley knew this, but instead of leaving the library with another more obtainable piece by Adams, he walked by a room with 3D printers and got this idea.
He walked by the Foundry: a makerspace in the fine arts library. According to the University's online publication, UT news.
The Foundry holds "laser cutters, 3D printers, textile machines and computers with design software – pretty much any equipment you would need to bring a creative project to life". It was here that Sean Riley met mechanical engineering senior, Daniel Goodwin.
Goodwin was quoted by UT news, saying, "Sean came in wanting to make this six-string violin. I asked him what his background was. he said, "I’m a violinist." "I said, you’re crazy."
Sean logged over 30,000 hours on traditional violins, he has played for Prince Charles and holds a Master's Degree in violin performance from the Julliard School, his personal instrument is 240 years old. Some people might call all that crazy, but in this case, it was just the right amount. Daniel Goodwin was on board and after enlisting one more member – sculptor and studio art major, Rebecca Milton – their team was ready to begin what has now become a successful year-long journey.
After a year of brainstorming and execution, Sean can finally play the low C and low F. With every note, one can hear Sean's 30,000 hours getting the better of him. This new instrument – engineered by Daniel Goodwin, moulded out of driftwood, bones and seashells by Rebecca Milton, and inspired by John Adams – this 3D print should be a rewarding instrument for Sean to master alongside his newest favourite, the Dharma.
Have a look at the inspirational piece of art in the video below.