Simon Bruhns

Februar / February - 2020

Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel

Bachelor of Arts


The HAYWIRE is an innovative electromechanical string instrument. It combines the natural interaction of mechanical and acoustic instruments with the musical possibilities of the organ and the synthesizer. The interaction is similar to a keyboard, but instead of the keys the strings are touched directly. The 38 strings can be played polyphonic with all of your fingers. The sound is produced by electromagnetic driven strings. Two coils and a feedback loop circuit behind each string create an oscillating electromagnetic field, producing a sustained sounding string. The created sound can be used to create atmospheric sound scapes, harmonies and melodies. The Instrument can be used as a solo instrument, in a band context and in an orchestra.

What is the Topic?

With the HAYWIRE I take a different approach to sustainable design. Instead of working with recycled or recyclable materials, I have developed a product that stands out for its durability. Musical instruments often have a personal value besides the financial value. As a result, high-quality musical instruments are rarely disposed or replaced by newer models. Instead, they are resold, given away, exhibited, repaired and often increase their value over time. For many people, music plays a large role in their life. New music with new instruments always has an important role in modern art. With the HAYWIRE and its new interaction and sound possibilities it is possible to create this new music.

Why does it look like this?

The open frame of the instrument provides the necessary stability and allows the audience a free view of the sound generation. The materials used, are based on traditional instrument manufacturing. The central trapezoidal shape results from the different lengths of the strings. The bridges are arranged in such a way that the higher strings have a shorter scale length and the lower strings have a longer scale length. The visible coils behind the strings bring the strings to oscillation. The lowest row of coils picks up the sound and allows playback via guitar amps or speakers. The instrument is played standing up, the fingerboard is on top of the instrument.

What is special?

The special feature of this instrument is the natural interaction with the instrument, similar to other acoustic instruments, in combination with the tonal possibilities of electric instruments. To start a tone, the string is touched directly. With the same gesture the tone can then be varied in volume and pitch. The unique sound generation creates a sustained sound, similar to the sound of string and wind instruments. The tone is picked up electromagnetically, similar to the electric guitar, and can easily be amplified, recorded and extended by effects. As the electric guitar to the acoustic guitar, the HAYWIRE can create new sounds and sound compositions but polyphonically.

What is new?

The innovation of the instrument lies on the one hand in the composition of several existing technologies and on the other hand in the new form of interaction. The technology of sound generation has so far only been used in the E-Bow: A hand-held device which is held over a string of an electric guitar and generates a sustained sounding string. The HAYWIRE incorporates this technology behind each string, which allows it to be played with only one finger instead of two hands. This one finger activates the string by touching it. By moving the finger down, the tension of the string is increasing and the pitch changes. By moving the finger back and forth, the volume of the note can be varied electronically. This multi-layered modulation of a single string by only one finger is unique and allows to create new sound compositions.