Culture

Dyson’s awesome steampunk orchestra is built from vacuum cleaners

By Oliver Smith 6 February 2018
Team DB is a violin made from a Dyson Airblade. Image: Dyson.
Summary

We’re sure they won’t suck.

It’s maybe the most unusual orchestra ever.

Violins, violas, cellos and dozens of Dyson vacuum cleaners.

This February the Orion Orchestra will perform at London’s Cadogan Hall, carrying musical instruments never before played outside Dyson’s top-secret Wiltshire campus.

Sir James Dyson with the Orion Orchestra. Image: Dyson.

It’s the culmination of a partnership cooked-up between Sir James Dyson, Orion’s artistic director Toby Purser and composer David Roche, to combine the sounds of modern machines with those of a more traditional orchestra.

But what started with a concept for two modified Dyson Supersonic hair dryers quickly grew into something much grander, as some 50 Dyson engineers volunteered over 600 hours of their own time to make a musical first.

“A piece that combines science and sound – fusing classical music and Dyson technologies together,” said Purser.

The Cyclophone is Dyson's steampunk organ, made from cordless vacuum pipes. Image: Dyson.

Meet the orchestra

Dyson’s in-house acoustic engineers used their expertise to create six unique instruments that do so much more than clean carpets.

The Cyclophone is a kind of steampunk organ, with its 48 pipes constructed from V8 cordless vacuums and tuned to different frequencies, while Dyson Air Multipliers draw air throughout the system.

The Amp-sichord. Image: Dyson.

The Amp-sichord is an array of 12 string instruments built into the bodies of Dyson Air Multipliers, each of the 36 strings are plucked by an electric motor and all of which are playable with a normal piano keyboard.

These two will be incorporated into Orion’s performances of Acoustical Anatomy, the first of which is on 18 February.

Other instruments created, but which will not be played by the orchestra, include Team DB, a violin made from a Dyson Airblade with a cordless vacuum wand, and the Electrospin, a guitar-shaped instrument built from a Dyson air purifier that changes frequency based on the angle it’s played.

Image: Dyson.

Dyson’s playful streak

Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve seen Dyson engineers show off their playful side.

The annual Challenge Dyson event last year saw a dramatic high-tech re-thinking of the traditional Christmas tree.

While Dyson’s recent recruitment events have seen applicants put through mysterious Crystal Maze-like challenges and solving cryptic online puzzles.

Even Dyson’s campus is a playful work of art, with mirrored buildings that disappear into nature.

But the Orion Orchestra could be Dyson’s most fantastic creation yet.

Instruments that not only look incredible, but sound amazing too.

Tickets are now available for Orion Orchestra’s opening night at Cadogan Hall on 18 February.