Bionic Harpist



John Sullivan


The Bionic Harpist is a is a research-creation collaboration with harpist Alexandra Tibbitts. Building upon a previous work “Harp gesture acquisition for the control of audiovisual synthesis”, we present a new musical interface for the concert harp. Where the previous project focused on free-handed gesture for the control of extra-musical parameters during performance, the resulting wearable hardware was not instrument specific. This current work directly augments the harp with a custom sensor interface that is physically coupled with the instrument itself, providing the harpist with an ergonomic set of controls to expand their instrumental performance with additional computer-based synthesis and processing. Our design approach exploits the large and readily accessible surface of the harp as an ergonomic layout for manipulation, leveraging the tacit embodied connection between performer and instrument. From a research perspective, the project investigates the impact of – and methodologies for – participatory design of musical interfaces between instrument builders and performers, and the development of new works for new and evolving instruments.

The Bionic Harpist will be performing live at the MUTEK 2020 Festival.

Project website: https://bionicharp.ist

IDMIL Participants:

External Participants:

Alexandra Tibbitts

Research Areas:




live@CIRMMT performance, February 2020