Musical Instrument Inventions

... An Electro-Acoustic Physically Inspired Folk Instrument
"One of the best NIME's I've ever seen" - Perry Cook

Welcome to the Kalichord!

The Kalichord is an electro-acoustic physically inspired folk instrument that I invented which is a cross between an accordion, a kalimba, and an autoharp (with some acoustic guitar thrown in there). The Kalichord was specifically designed to let you be a bass player and finger-style guitarist at the same time.

How It Works - overview

The right hand notes are played by physically plucking eight small tines which function as virtual strings. The tines are made of piezoelectric film, and analog signals from the tines are used as excitation signals for a physical model of a string instrument. In this way the instrument responds to all kinds of plucking subtleties in a way that makes physical, intuitive sense and is far more expressive than a MIDI controller.

The left hand plays additive-synth bass lines using buttons positioned under the thumb and fingertips. The thumb buttons play the tonic of a specified chord, and the finger buttons and right-hand tine-strings are constrained to notes in that chord. This allows for independent bass lines and chordal melodies.

The two hands can also be rotated with respect to each other, which is used for additional control parameters such as octave shifting, wah-wah effects, and changing some physical parameters of the string model. The result makes playing bass lines and arpeggios simultaneously both easy and very expressive, which is an advantage for any solo performer.

Here is a brief video presentation (make sure your bass is turned up):


A full description of the Kalichord can be found in the proceedings of NIME 2009.

The control flow looks like this:

For more information on physical modeling of musical instrument, go to:

To see more instruments I have made, go to my instruments page.


Tine Side
Bass Side
Electronics inside
Screenshot of Max/MSP engine


Currently the audio for the Kalichord generated by an external computer, with the control and pluck signals running through an offboard microcontroller (Arduino) and A/D converter (RME Fireface).

Contact / Mailing List

To get on the mailing list, or just send me a comment, suggestion, gig request, or anything else, shoot me an email at contact (at) dannymo (dot) com