This may be one of the strangest instruments we have ever seen, second only to the Theremin, or possibly the Bubble Organ. “Inventor of useless things” Niklas Roy has constructed a multi-channel, 1-bit sound synthesizer inside a small birch log. By touching small felt balls with a hammer, the user can produce melodies while feeling as though they are literally crafting a piece of music.
Taking over the wood shop of the Serde art space in Aizpue, Latvia where his girlfriend had been invited for a residency, Niklas Roy crafted his Hammer Synthesizer from a log of birch, felt, and electronic elements. An AT mega8 that uses an internal 1 MHz resonator, 5 V linear regulator, and transistor amplifier, the whole contraption can be powered by a 9V battery. The balls that produce the notes are covered with conductive yarn, and when placed inside the log and tapped with a metal hammer connected the the ground, a circuit is completed, causing the synthesizer to produce metallic, buzzing notes.
Budding birch DJ’s can visit Roy’s website for the computer code and schematics on how to build their own wooden synthesizer. The felt duck hat is not included.