Microtonal tuning is a rapidly growing area in which musicians are experimenting with a diverse range of tuning systems in their search for new resources for making music. One of the challenges in the field is that pre-existing musical instruments are inadequate for realising the abundance of theoretical tunings that musicians wish to investigate. My PhD thesis examined a unique hexagonal keyboard system developed by contemporary tuning theorist Erv Wilson
as a potential solution to this problem. This keyboard offers a useful interface not only for composing and performing microtonal music, but also for analysing and developing new tuning resources with wide applications in musical instrument design. My current project is an extension of my PhD and involves collaborative research into custom-designed musical instruments using 3D modelling and printing techniques. Whilst there are several examples of musical instruments made with 3D printing, their aims tend to be simply to replicate existing models for comparison with the sounds of the original. By contrast, our project takes advantage of 3D printing’s capacity to customise designs for the purpose of creating flutes that can play microtonal tunings not possible on standard instruments. The presentation will include brief musical excerpts to illustrate the talk.