Musical Vibrations is a new project from the Acoustics Research Unit at the University of Liverpool. We aim to bring music to more d/Deaf people, using the power of vibration.

The story so far

The potential for vibration to allow “hearing through the skin” was first considered in 1926. As acoustics researchers we’ve been involved since 2010, searching for a suitable technology solution to help d/Deaf people to perceive music through vibration and to help d/Deaf and hearing musicians work together as equals.

The technology that underpins Musical Vibrations is known as vibrotactile technology. We’ve worked with musicians, music psychologists, teachers and charities working with people who are d/Deaf to find what vibrotactile technology is capable of.

Proof of concept video

What next?

Initial feedback from users who have used the Musical Vibrations equipment has been overwhelmingly positive. We are now exploring what the system can really do outside of the laboratory, bringing vibrotactile technology into schools, music hubs, studios and music venues where it can create a real-life impact.

Our vision is to have a vibrotactile system in every every school for Deaf children, every resource base of the Deaf and every concert venue (in conjunction with captioning and performance signing).

Join in

We’ve created a simple to use vibrotactile system which is available on a loan basis (free of charge) for d/Deaf people and organisations working with d/Deaf people to try out. We’re looking for feedback on what works and what our next steps should be.

To experience the Musical Vibrations vibrotactile technology for yourself, contact us or see our join in page.

The team

Musical Vibrations is run by the Acoustics Research Unit (ARU) at the University of Liverpool.

University of Liverpool Acoustics Research Unit Logo

Natalie Barker, Research Associate / Student researcher

I’m a part-time Research Associate in music education for d/Deaf children. I’m a trained musician and secondary school music teacher. My work in the Acoustics Research Unit focuses on the introduction of vibrotactile technology into music education settings

Professor Carl Hopkins

Professor Carl Hopkins against a white brick background
Professor Carl Hopkins

“I’m Head of the Acoustics Research Unit. My research interests include structure-borne sound transmission, which is how I came to be involved in vibrotactile technology. Many years ago I was driving home from work listening to Dame Evelyn Glennie on the radio and she was giving an interview about how she used the vibration of the floor as feedback whilst playing. This gave me the initial ideas which eventually led to the creation of the Musical Vibrations project”. 

Dr Gary Seiffert, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Gary Seiffert

“My main areas of expertise are in acoustic instrumentation and measurement techniques. I am responsible for sourcing and putting together the vibrotactile components and for establishing safe limits for the use of the system. When Musical Vibrations equipment is loaned to an establishment, I ensure that the system is installed and set up to operate safely”.

Find out more

What is Musical Vibrations?