Albert Einsten, a musician and a music lover, is quoted for having said: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.”. 3D Printing now offers new ways for the two fields to intersect, and today’s #CyantistWeLove, Pauline Eveno, has been able to combine her love of music with her physics background. She has created 3D printed custom mouthpieces that can be tuned to a musician’s preferences, and founded the company Syos to serve the music community at large. We are excited to feature her and her team’s work, which will no doubt inspire all music loving Cyantists!
Cyant: Can you please tell us about Syos, Syos’s custom mouthpieces and why they are so unique?
Pauline: Syos, which means Shape Your Own Sound, is a French company founded in 2016 by two acoustic researchers from Ircam: myself, and Maxime Carron. Syos lets all saxophone players get their own sound more easily thanks to 3D printed custom mouthpieces. Syos makes mouthpieces that are more in tune, more homogeneous, easier to play and optimized to the sound each musician is looking for. We developed an algorithm that translates the needs of the musician, that he/she expresses by filling out a questionnaire, directly into the geometry of a mouthpiece that will give him/her the sound he/she wants.
Cyant: What led you to the idea and why use 3D printing? Did you have a background in music?
Pauline: Syos wouldn't exist without 3D printing. Indeed, it's the only way for us to make a unique mouthpiece for each musician. It makes the customization possible at a larger scale.
Yes I have a background in music. I have been playing flute for 20 years and more recently I started bass guitar and saxophone. But more importantly I have a PhD in acoustics. I did my PhD at Ircam on the acoustics of wind instruments.
Cyant: What type of expertise and team did it take to be able to first prototype the pieces and then produce them on a larger scale?
Pauline: First we needed to understand the acoustics of the mouthpieces and what was the influence of the geometry of the mouthpiece on the sound and playing characteristics of the saxophone. Then, we needed to translate the needs of musicians from the words to the geometry of the mouthpiece. So we did tests with thousands of musicians. Of course we also needed to design the mouthpieces using a 3D modeling software, Solidworks, and find the right technology to print the mouthpieces.
Cyant: How are musicians using and responding to your innovations? Is there a fear that the sound may not be the same? Are they able to create new sounds?
Pauline: Musicians love the mouthpieces! But there are still some musicians who are suspicious about the material. There are a lot of myths in music and one of them is that the material the instrument is made of has a strong impact on the sound. It's actually the case for string instruments, because it's the vibrating body of the instrument that radiates the sound, but in wind instruments it's the air that is vibrating, so if you have a hard material, it doesn't matter if it's plastic or metal, what's important is the internal geometry. We actually have a blog where we explain the science of musical instruments: syos.co/blog
Moreover, since we are the first manufacturers to use the color a lot on our instruments, a lot of people see them as toys. It's kind of sad because I want to believe that color isn't only restricted to kids. But now that we have some of the best saxophonists in the world playing on our mouthpieces, minds are changing and more and more people believe in us and ask for colorful mouthpieces!
Cyant: What is next for the future of sound/music and 3D printing in your mind? Will there be more development to completely re-invent instruments, or create new ones? Or combining specific re-designed pieces with traditional parts?
Pauline: For me, 3D printing will really help getting more and more personalized instruments. So we expect to extend our model to other musical instruments. 3D printing can also completely change the way the instruments are distributed. Instead of producing all the instruments in one factory and them shipping them all over the world, we could have a 3D printer in every music shops and directly print the instrument there.
3D printing is also really useful for prototyping things faster, so a lot of musical instruments could be redesigned to be easier to play, more in tune, etc. During my PhD I developed a software that is helping craftsmen to predict the characteristics of their instruments before making them. Jerôme Wiss for example, used the software to design a trumpet that is completely in tune. He then used 3D printing to prototype and test the trumpet he had designed, and now he is making it by hand in metal and it works great! There is also a project at Ircam and LMA (two acoustic labs in Paris and Marseille) to make a new clarinet, more intuitive to play. So yes, I'm sure there are a lot of things that will be happening in the musical instruments.
Cyant: What is your advice for young cyantists who are interested in the intersection of music, sound and 3D printing?
Pauline: They should apply at Syos ;)
My advice is to always do things you are passionate about, with passion you can really reach the stars :)
Cyant: Finally, what is your favorite thing to draw? :)
Pauline: I’m really bad at drawing... I'm more into music.
Cyant: So that would be… sheets of music! ;)
Thanks Pauline for sharing about your innovative work and inspiring music loving Cyantists! If you want to learn more about Syos and their custom 3D printed pieces for musicians, make sure to visit HERE!