Engineers and designers from the Yamaha Corporation and the Yamaha Motor Company have changed places for a rather special project called Ah A May (that's Yamaha backwards). Musical instrument creators have been tasked with producing motorcycle and bicycle prototypes, while folks from the motorcycle design house were let loose on a pair of percussion instruments. Let's have a look at the latter.
The goal of Project Ah A May, according to the companies at its heart, "is for the designers to stimulate each other’s imaginations and seek to create products that embodied their shared image of Yamaha." It was an experiment to discover what would happen if design philosophies from manufacturers of distinctly different products were applied to areas outside of their normal experience.
The inventive minds taking part were not burdened with having to create something that would be sold to the public, but just to see where the journey would take them. And the folks at the Yamaha Motor Company were given "Marimbas" and "Drums" as project themes to work on.
The first of the two instrument designs has been named Fujin, after the Japanese god of the wind. The marimba has been designed for two performers to sit inside the tubular metal frame, rather like on a motorcycle.
Where a classic instrument has resonators attached to each wooden bar, those of the Fujin are restricted to front and center. The wooden blocks are mounted on a circular platform which can be pushed and pulled by the person at the rear, with the player at the front in charge of beating away at the bars in front.
The result is visually arresting, as you can see (and hear) in the video below.
Next up is Raijin, an astounding drum kit in a cage designed with the Shinto god of lightning, thunder and storms in mind. Placing a drum set in a rack for ease of transport and setup is nothing new of course, Yamaha's electronic drums, for example, have been framed in such a way for a number of years. But the Raijin design is something else.
The drum kit is spread out over the inside of a huge hamster ball made of metal tubing. The player stands inside and dances around bashing the living daylights out of snares, toms, cymbals and cow bells strategically positioned within the frame. There are four kick pedals on the platform at the bottom and, even moreso than the Fujin, the sight of the player working his magic is breathtaking.
You can see and hear the prototype in action in the video below.
Though neither of these prototypes has been earmarked for production, we're pretty sure you'll agree that Yamaha's motorcycle designers have come up with winners here.
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