Celebrated folk musician and composer’s passion for our earliest music machine sees him embrace 21st century music technology
1. Find and restore a rare 19th century 4ft high music box called a Polyphon and reverse engineer the Victorian technology that was used to project music manuscript into its 20” steel discs.
2. Write the first full piece for the instrument in 129 years and develop a computer programme that converts electronic music files into the concentric coordinates required to manufacture new polyphon discs.
3. Replace the machine’s coin mechanism with foot operated solenoid switches to enable stop/starting of discs mid-play. Fit an optical sensor to the governor wheel that measures disc speed and syncs this to an external computer via midi and the latest music software enabling sections of discs to be looped or layered.
4. Arrange well-known folk tunes like Cumberland Reel and Canadee IO for polyphon, and melodeon/guitar and create a 6-disc 15 min new work with support from Arts Council England and PRS for Music Foundation.
5. Invite people to listen.