Yann was lucky enough to meet musician and producer extraordinaire Matthew Herbert in June 2011, and we got to talking about his One Pig album, which was released worldwide in October 2011. In a nutshell, the album was created entirely using recordings from a single pig, which Matthew followed “from birth to plate”. The album is divided into months, representing those periods in the pig’s life (and afterlife). The result is brutal, touching, gorgeous, and unsettling all at once.
He mentioned that he was looking for an electronic music interface for live performance which really reflected the themes inherent in the album. Sounds like a Lucky Frame project, doesn’t it?
So after some back and forth with Matthew, we decided to build an instrument modeled off a pig sty, which could be played by pulling, twisting, and plucking the wires.
To read a full description of how we built the instrument, soon dubbed the Sty Harp, you can head over to Yann’s Amazing Rolo blog. We basically ended up hacking a bunch of Gametrak controllers to use their wonderful innards, which are comprised of three potentiometers – two as an X-Y joystick and a third attached to a gear which lets you measure distance.
Jon then coded a nifty system which allowed us to run 12 of these controllers, or 36 streams of analog data, into a computer via USB through an Arduino.
The result is the Sty Harp! Here’s a trailer made up of video from our show at the Royal Opera House:
And here’s a video from Reuters of the band rehearsing for our show at Cafe Oto in London.
In addition to building the instrument, Yann has been touring with Matthew and his amazing band to play the creation live. So far they have played at the Royal Opera House London, in Bolzano Italy, at the Liquid Room in Tokyo, and future gigs are confirmed in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Zurich and Eindhoven, with more being booked all the time.
It’s a very exciting project for us, and hopefully there will be loads more shows in the future!