Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

Electric Cello

  • Photo: Shelley Dormont ‘11
    Photo: Shelley Dormont ‘11

Natalie I. Phillips-Perkoff, Will J. Hardy
Sponsor: Gerald Wade, Coordinator of Science Facilities and Equipment
Lois Ferrari, Professor of Music

We plan to design and build an electric cello using a combination of existing ideas and our own innovations. An electric cello is certainly a departure from the heritage of classical acoustic instruments, but its purpose is the same as that of its acoustic counterpart: it will be a tool for musical expression. By the nature of its electric design, such a cello will be capable of producing both traditional sounds and electronically influenced tones, broadening its expressive capabilities. We plan to design and build the piezoelectric pickup unit using standard individual electronic components, instead of buying a finished commercial unit. Since the pickup is the primary part responsible for translating string vibrations into an electronic signal, it will be a deciding factor in this cello’s sound. Designing it ourselves will mean that we control this essential step in creating an electronic sound. Following construction of this instrument, we plan to host performances for a variety of audiences, which we hope will include local elementary, middle, and high school students, along with members of the Southwestern community. This project will require both musical and technical expertise, and it will serve as a tangible product of the many connections between music and physics, which are are our respective majors.