Many creative ideas begin in places where we least expect them. Musical Vibrations came about during a car journey.
Professor Carl Hopkins, head of the Acoustics Research Unit (ARU) at the University of Liverpool, first dreamt up the idea that would result in the Musical Vibrations project when a radio broadcast in his car connected his research into floor vibration with the phenomenon of music being perceived as vibrations through the floor of a concert hall as described by Dame Evelyn Glennie.
His initial thoughts were of designing performance decks around each instrument to maximise vibrational feedback and remove potential variations between different concert performance spaces.
So, research began in 2012, in conjunction with the Royal Northern College of Music, to explore how vibrotactile technology could support musicians with a hearing impairment. The intention was to open up new opportunities for people to become musicians and perform with other musicians. Publications on this research can be found here. This research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant No. AH/H008926/1)
The video above summarises the concept outlined in the research, which was that it was possible for hearing musicians who had had their hearing completely masked using white noise, and who could not see each other, to perform together successfully using vibrotactile feedback alone.