CICADA ACOUSTIC SYNTHESIZER
Play with the building blocks of sound
Judge's Special Award:
Guthman Musical Instrument Competition 2022.
We're excited to share that Cicada won the Judge's Special Award at the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition 2022. Watch the performance by clicking the link above!
What is Cicada?
The Ultimate Sound Design Generator
Cicada’s unique feature is the system’s ability to transform electrical signals into precise mechanical vibrations capable of generating acoustic modulation.
Our system allows you to control and interact with acoustic synthesis in a spontaneous and playful way.
Take a look at our Cicada input vs. output demo.
At the core of Cicada is our patented tip-surface interaction between the bridge and the soundboard. Vibrations generated by the voice-coil motors in the actuator are transmitted and amplified by the bridge, causing intermittent interaction with the soundboard.
This intermittent and periodic interaction results in modulation. The precision of Cicada allows for these modulation effects to be controllable and repeatable through touch and CV input. It elevates a simple linear transducer interaction with a surface into a nonlinear, controllable, musical interface.
Playful Sound Exploration
Cicada offers rich customization of sound through a variety of soundboards and bridges.
Depending on the resonator and filter properties of each material, the resulting sound is dramatically transformed.
Hard materials, like the wood soundboard, produce brighter and more distorted sounds, whereas softer materials, like the EVA foam soundboard, result in low-pass filtered sounds emphasizing bass frequencies. The weight, density, and shape all affect the sound, leading endless possibilities and configurations.
Integrating Cicada into Your Setup
Cicada receives audio signals generated by
a computer program (e.g. Ableton, or Max)
an electric or (miked) acoustic instrument
a standalone synthesizer
a Eurorack module
Cicada commonly sends audio signals to
a computer program
a powered monitoring or PA system
a Eurorack module
Artists Creating with Cicada
From Richard Devine to Julia Govor, artists discover new ways to create rich and vivid soundscapes and textures. Explore these individualistic expressions of acoustic synthesis and apply here to become a Cicada Artist.
Let us take you on a new musical journey where the physical coexists with the virtual.
Physical Synth Control
As a musician, you love getting physically involved with the creation of sound. Whether it be strumming a guitar, blowing a horn, or running your fingers across a keyboard. We all have that drive to use movement and touch in order to effect a change in tone and sound.
By moving the bridges so they vibrate on different parts of the soundboard you produce different sonic results.
Further control is possible via the DC offset feature of Cicada, which allows the user to raise and lower the bridge electronically by submillimeter distances. This results in expressive automation of signal-driven effects as well as precise sample-and-hold methods.
And by pressing or touching on different parts of the soundboard, you can change and manipulate the sound, bringing the Cicada back to the physical musical world.
Bringing Together the Pieces of the Synth Puzzle
Cicada brings together five key components; AMP, PRE, Actuator, Bridge, and Soundboard. These five pieces of the puzzle work together to convert the virtual into the physical.
Vibrations are produced by the Actuator from up to three input signals which are generated by the AMP module.
These vibrations are carried across the bridge and are transformed into nonlinear tip surface interactions onto the Soundboard, resulting in acoustic synthesis. The soundboard contains an acoustic pickup capturing the arthroscopic events on the soundboard.
The signal from the pickup is attenuated, filtered, and preamplified via the PRE module.
Finally, force sensitive resistors in the soundboard turn Cicada into a control voltage (CV) controller. Offering you the ability to incorporate touch control back into your experimental beats, soundscapes, and sound design.
Expansion and Exploration
Each module can be expanded with further Cicada engineered components and technology, enabling you to push the sonic capabilities of each unit.
Cicada soundboards can be made from a range of materials, and are currently available in wood, EVA foam, and polycarbonate.
Multiple bridges can be used and arrive with a selection of tipped ends (Neoprene, wood, and metal) which produce completely different tones and voices.
Cicada is an ever-growing sound system controlled by you.
Sounds Made with Cicada