The DAMPER allows you to physically feel sound-waves. The DAMPER was designed to explore both ‘effortful interaction’ with new digital musical instruments and also to explore the use of resistive haptic interfaction in new digital musical instruments. The design centres around the use of a magneto-rheological fluid brake, allowing the control of the braking fore between the two shafts. It was designed and built in collaboration with Nick Ward during the first year of my PhD.


Through prototyping there have been quite a few different modes of operation. Here’s a selection of those:

  1. Sample Mode. Allows you to scrub through a sample, in a similar manner to scratching a record. The brake is used to create the feeling of pushing /pulling through the sample, where loud sound are harder to move through than quiet sections.
  2. ‘Theremin’ Mode. A single pitched sound is played, with the pitch smoothly controlled by the distance between the handles.
  3. Fretted Theremin. Same as above but with the addition of a virtual fretboard, created through modulating the braking force.


Bennett, P., Ward, N.; O’Modhrain, S. & Rebelo, P. “DAMPER: A Platfrom for Effortful Interface Development ” NIME ’07: Proceedings of the 7th international conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, New York, June 2007
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