Home Musical play In the blink of an eye, anyone can play music

In the blink of an eye, anyone can play music

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Eye Harp / YouTube

While many say the eyes are the windows to the soul, a Greek music teacher sees them as the windows to soul music… or rock, electro or jazz.

Zacharias Vamvakousis is the creative brain behind EyeHarp, and although he missed the chance to call it “EyeTunes”, his new digital musical instrument is enabling hundreds of quadriplegics to create music using only their eyes.

With a doctorate. in music technology and with expert computer skills, Vamvakousis made the field of disabled music a specialty after a friend suffered a motorcycle accident that impaired his ability to play the guitar.

EyeHarp is currently in its fifth iteration, and Vamvakousis started the EyeHarp Foundation in 2019 to try to bring his instrument to more people.

Notes appear on screen in a color-coded wheel set to pentatonic or heptatonic scales, and are selected for sonication by the user’s gaze. The same note previously selected will remain on screen for a quick power riff, or another can be chosen.

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To help students learn, a visual aid in the form of a circle will glide across the screen to direct the eye to the next correct note, but can be turned off so people with disabilities can get through the rigors of practice that any anyone trying to learn an instrument has to suffer.

Much like the Guitar Hero video game, EyeHarp comes with accuracy scores and other playful metrics, as well as an option to silence errors.

“Playing music is a process that requires studying and having music lessons,” Vamvakousis told the Christian Science Monitor. “So if we want it to reach a lot of people, we have to reach the music teachers first.”

650 people currently use EyeHarp, including Joel Bueno, a Spaniard with cerebral palsy and the center of the Christian Science Monitor feature, who wanted to play music with his older brother.

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EyeHarp is a very important instrument for my life because I always wanted to play music,” Bueno explains. “It’s an innovative instrument; excellent and very fresh.

“We knew that certain activities like playing soccer or making music would be impossible for Joel,” says Ms. Bueno. “When EyeHarp came out, we were like, god, if we can do this, we can do anything.”

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