Thales at the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition

Nicola Privato's magnetic discs
Sat Jan 20 2024
Two black pucks on a wooden palette with markings on it

Thales - the magnetic discs

The Guthman Musical Instrument Competition has revealed the ten instruments that made it to the final round of their competition. We are happy to announce that one of these instruments was Thales, by our very own Nicola Privato!

The competition was originally meant to identify the next generation of musical instrumentalist but has since then developed into a huge events for music technologists where you’ll find new technologies and novel ideas to a community of musicians who are natural experimenters.

The Guthman Competition says in their announcement that each finalist and instrument has a compelling story that brings musical and design excellence to a stage primed for discovery.

Thales is based on two controllers that interact with each other through permanent magnets. When the performer attempts to join the controllers, they repel each other. This allows the performer to play with the tangible manifestation of their opposing magnetic fields.

A black puck with a riser on top

The riser is on top of the disc

Each controller contains a riser which touches the player’s palm as they play. When a magnetic field is encountered, the riser activates and the player will feel it pushing into their palm.

Two black pucks, one open with electornic components inside.

Inside Thales

As for the sound, Thales uses RAVE, a Neural Synthesis model for real time interaction. The model is trained on the sounds of magnets, hence the “composed” nature of this instrument.

We’re looking forward to the final round of the Guthman competition, at Georgia Tech, Atlanta (USA), in March 2024!

More on Thales

See all the finalists