About this CUNY Adjunct Incubator Project

As part of a research project supported by the CUNY Adjunct Incubator, Harry Stafylakis, an Adjunct Lecturer in the Music Department at City College of New York, CUNY, is developing "Innovating Technology In Art: Developing Contemporary Music for 3D-Printed Instruments," a public research project which is to create a new musical composition, Singularity, 2018 for 3D-printed string octet and orchestra.



This project is in collaboration with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Alain Trudel, a part of the OSO’s 3D StringTheory project. The OSO’s 3D String Theory project’s goal is to produce 3D-printed string instruments that will be played in concert in the fall of 2018. The OSO has commissioned violin maker Charline Dequincey and the Industrial Technology Centre in Winnipeg to make the instruments. The concert will feature my new composition for the 3D-printed instruments performed by eight concerto soloists, backed by the full symphony orchestra on November 4th, 2018 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, with the intention of engaging both traditional symphony-going audiences and a general public that may not be as connected to the cultural milieu of classical music. Click here for more information about the concert and for tickets.


Composer Harry Stafylakis rehearses with Ottawa Symphony musicians on 3D printed instruments in preparation for 3D StringTheory performance. Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.


The research component involves Harry Stafylakis and the soloists traveling to Winnipeg to test the prototype instruments, explore their timbral and registral characteristics, and collect first-hand impressions of what inherent strengths and weaknesses they possess. Throughout this process, Stafylakis will be developing the musical materials for this large-scale composition and making adjustments based on our observations of the instruments themselves.


Ottawa Symphony's Concert Master Mary-Elizabeth Brown plays 3D printed instrument (Prototype 3) in a rehearsal for Ottawa Symphony's 3D StringTheory project. Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.


This project will explore how traditional musical forms can be impacted by the development of 3D printing technology. Ultimately, Stafylakis' composition will also be a first step in developing a musical language that mines the potential of this new generation of instruments. Traditional string instruments are expensive – professional-level instruments cost five or six figures – and have therefore only been available to segments of society with substantial financial means. As 3D-printing becomes increasingly inexpensive and widely available, the development of high-quality 3D-printed versions of these instruments can very well have a revolutionary social impact in terms of opening classical music performance up to people of different socio-economic backgrounds.


3D printed instrument in progress (Prototype 3) for Ottawa Symphony's 3D StringTheory project. Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.


Additional media and information about the project:

• “Ottawa Symphony Orchestra: Making music with instruments of the 21st century” in Artsfile; click here to read. 

• "Ottawa's symphony orchestra steps into the future with a 3D printing contest" in the Ottawa Citizen; click here to read. 

• "Eight 3D printed musical instruments coming to Ottawa Symphony Orchestra" in 3D Printing Industry; click here to read. 

• "Fiddling around with tradition:Violins and violas made by a Winnipeg company's 3D printer to play beautiful music at Ottawa concert this fall", an interview with Harry Stafylakis in Winnipeg Free Press; click here to read. 

• An interview with Harry Stafylakis in Winnipeg's Classic 107; click here to read. 


This project is part of the CUNY Adjunct Incubator and is co-sponsored by the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Alain Trudel, a part of the OSO’s 3D StringTheory project, and by the Center for the Humanities and the Gittell Urban Studies Collective at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

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