18 Nov 2020
Atlas Çoğulu’s Lego Microtonal Guitar at the Final of World-Famous Design Competition
Lego Microtonal Guitar developed by İTÜ Turkish Music State Conservatory faculty member Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoğulu from an idea of his 10-year old son Atlas together with İTÜ MİAM PhD student Ruşen Can Acet made it to the finals in Georgia Tech 2021 Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Design Competition.
News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office
News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office
İTÜ Turkish Music State Conservatory faculty member Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoğulu, who had developed the adjustable microtonal guitar at the Center for Advanced Studies in Music (MİAM) in 2008, accomplished another guitar design project.
Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoğulu, who initiated the world’s first microtonal guitar graduate program under the Music Program at İTÜ in 2014, started the design of a fretboard called “Lego Microtonal Guitar” made of Lego in 2018. Lego Microtonal Guitar, which was created from an idea of his 10-year old son Atlas Çoğulu, allows playing koma sounds as well as full and half sounds.
The "Lego Microtonal Guitar" project, which started in 2018 and spanned two years, made it to the finals in the Georgia Tech 2021 Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Design Competition. We congratulate our faculty member Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoğulu who put his efforts into the project together with İTÜ MİAM Sound Engineering department’s PhD student Ruşen Can Acet who also has a great share inrealizing the project, and Atlas Çoğulu, the progenitor of the idea, and wish them luck on the way to the finals.
Those who would like to choose the best instrument design among the finalists will be able to vote from the link below until the beginning of December 2020.
Link for voting: https://guthman.gatech.edu/gallery
To watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPCEImSfCwc
How was the Lego Microtonal Guitar idea born?
Çoğulu, who started to work on the realization of the design inspired by his son’s idea, explained the project process with the following words: “It all started two years ago when my son Atlas made the Lego version of the adjustable microtonal guitar fretboard. After he finished the fretboard, he said I could use it in a real guitar. We immediately examined Lego guitars on YouTube. We noticed something interesting: None of the playable guitars had fretboards made of Lego. Nobody was interested in guitar fretboards. Rather, they used standard guitar fretboards made of wood. So, we decided to focus on this. We would make a guitar with onlyits fretboard made of Lego. This way, the sound of the guitar would not change. Moreover, as the frets would also be made of Lego, they could be relocated so that microtones of the Turkish music could be played on the guitar and this design could be used in guitar education. When my son Atlas gave me this idea two years ago, it was hard to imagine that we would get to this point.I am glad to see that this guitar works well. I hope guitarists who would like to play the music of different cultures will enjoy playing the Lego Microtonal Guitar.”
"We looked for small square pieces among thousands of Lego"
Çoğulu said that they realized this project with the help of İTÜ MİAM Sound Engineering PhD student Ruşen Can Acet, and told the production stages of Lego fretboard as follows: “First of all, we designed a baseplatewhere Lego pieces can be inserted and fabricated it with a 3D printer.Wecalculated the standard guitar fret positions and placed Lego studs for the microtones between the frets. After gluing the fretboard to the guitar came the fun part. Atlas and I started to look for Lego pieces to fill the spaces on the fretboard. After inserting all Lego pieces into the fretboard, it was time for the frets. We produced two types of frets, round and square. We completed the Lego Microtonal Guitar by attaching the frets to the fretboard. We would like to thank Öğrenenler Workshop, where we did the 3D printing, and its founder Selçuk Keser.”
“Atlas liked the Lego microtonal guitar a lot”
“Atlas, who was also the progenitor of the idea, liked the Lego Microtonal Guitar a lot. As he had been learning classical guitar for two months, he agreed to try some examples. First, I showed him how to play Âşık Veysel’s “Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım” without the microtones. Then I showed the locations of the microtones for the musical piece. Atlas managed to play the piece with the correct microtones. Then I showed him the scales and realized that this design can be used in teaching music theory on the guitar. We took off all the frets and attached only five frets for the C major scale. Then I showed how we can change C major into C minorby changing the positions of three frets. Finally, I showed him a Balinese pentatonic scale with three microtones. I hope that this design will be used for playing the music of different cultures and also for standard guitar education.”
“I trust our guitar, I will be glad if you vote”
Atlas Çoğulu said that he is very happy to have entered this competition and proud to make it to the finals with this guitar. Atlas also said, “We may win or we may lose … But I’m very happy and excited to attend. I trust our guitar. We worked very hard to do it. I will be glad if you vote.”
About Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoğulu
Our faculty member Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoğulu, who had developed the adjustable microtonal guitar at İTÜ MİAM in 2008, initiated the world’s first microtonal guitar graduate program under the Music Program at İTÜ in 2014. Çoğulu worked on a research project entitled“Historical Tunings on Microtonal Guitar” and gave seminarsat the University of Bristol throughout 2016. Çoğulu has been giving concerts and seminars in 34 countries with the microtonal guitar since 2008, and his project entitled “Creating and Presenting a Repertoire for the Microtonal Guitar” carried out in collaboration with University of Music Würzburg between 2015-2017 was supported by DAAD. In this project, 12 composers wrote pieces for the microtonal guitar and ensemble. In 2016, he organized the world’s first Microtonal Guitar Competition. In 2018, the microtonal guitar method book he co-authored with Fernando Perez was published in Spain. His solo microtonal guitar album Microtonalwas published by Ahenk Music. Prof. Dr. Çoğulu, is currently teaching classical and microtonal guitar at İTÜ Turkish Music State Conservatory and MİAM.
About Ruşen Can Acet
Ruşen Can Acet, who is also a mechanical engineer (M.Sc.), is currently pursuing his doctoral education in İTÜ Center for Advanced Studies in Music in the field of Sound Engineering. Meşk Tech. Co. founded by him went on the stage among the first 20 enterprises in BigBang 2019 organized by İTÜ Teknokent. In his mechanical engineering senior project he investigated sound properties of gourd violin (kabak kemane) he produced out of composite materials and took the first place in the senior project competition organized by the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers. His interest in music started at a young age with playing the gourd violin. Later, instrument makingand sound engineering became of interest to him. He took part in many albums and projects and attended various concerts in and outside Turkey. Ruşen Can Acet is also a fellow of “OneBeat” music project, which is an initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.