A plasmaphone is a musical instrument that produces sound in plasma, or ionized gas, with or without later amplification, processing, or the like.
In terms of musical instrument classification the plasmaphone completes the four acoustic classes of musical instruments that use matter in its solid, liquid, gas, or plasma state to make sound.
The plasmaphone was introduced, in public performance, at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference in 2007, where it was played together with a
hydraulophonein a concert that took place in a pool located in New York City.
A plasmaphone performance was also part of the Immersive Music theme of ICMC 2007. In keeping with the spirit of ICMC's 2007 theme, Immersed Music, the instrument used here was an underwater plasma instrument, in which clear plastic trays of water were hung from sounding pipes. The initial sound-production medium was underwater plasma. Due to health and safety reasons, the plasma was not generated in pool water, but, rather, in separate containers of water, in order that bathers in the Swim Center's pools not be exposed to any danger.
Possible confusion with electrophones
Plasmaphones may involve either or both of:
*Open flame (in which case it is subclassified as a
*Electrical discharge (sparks, etc.).
Typically the player touches one or more flames or electrical/spark sources in order to play the instrument.
Whereas some plasmaphones, like the fifth Hornbostel Sachs category, Electrophones, use electricity, the plasmaphone is not an electrophone (any more than an electric guitar is an electrophone merely because it uses electricity in some way).
As with the electric guitar, which is a chordophone using electric amplification in conjunction with electric, optical, or acoustic pickups, the electric plasmaphone produces the initial sound acoustically, which is then picked up electrically, optically, or acoustically (or by a combination of these).
Comparison with instruments in other states-of-matter
* [http://itp.nyu.edu/nime/2007/proc/nime2007_118.pdf Physiphones, an article describing hydraulophones, plasmaphones, and a physics-based organology for these new instruments and previously known instruments]
* [http://wearcam.org/icmc2007 Plasmaphones at Vandkulturhuset swim center for ICMC 2007 Immersed Music concert]
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