FA 2013: The Future of Guitar and Instrument Design

2013-14 CTM Lecture, workshop and performance series

In 2013-14, CTM presents a series of lectures, workshops, & performances focusing on the cutting edge present and future of guitar and instrument design. Organized and coordinated by Ed Keller, and co-sponsored by Mannes School of Music, the series functions as a platform to build cross divisional collaboration at The New School, and opens exclusive external collaborations. Internationally renowned luthiers, designers, builders, materials innovators, composers, performers, theorists, and sound designers come together to explore points of connection between the traditions of musical instrument design and sound production, and new forms of design thinking facilitated by materials science, emergent materials, parametric design, the internet of things, physical computing, networked sound, and the politics of ‘noise’.
– Ed Keller

In the spring of 2014, our guests include guitarist/teacher/technologist Joe Ravo, architect, designer and coder Ezio Blasetti, luthier Michihiro Matsuda, luthier Florian Vorreiter, and more TBA.. Guest performances and workshops will be linked to the lecture series via our spring Collab course ‘The Radical Future of Guitar‘.

In the fall of 2013, our first guests in this project included some of the most internationally recognized and innovative guitar designers of recent decades: Ken Parker, Ned Steinberger, Ola Strandberg, and Gary Lee. Each lecture was accompanied by panel discussions, performances and demonstrations by internationally acclaimed artists including Allan Marcus, Charlie Hunter, Fred Hand, Charles Yang, Barry Salmon, Dom Minasi, & Ratzo Harris. Theorists and performers speaking on the current and future envelope of instrument design join these events; Martin Rosenberg was our guest in December in this capacity.


Ola Strandberg: September 30th, 6.45 PM – 9.30 PM, lecture with special performance by
Allan Marcus, at Parsons Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Avenue, New York NY
Eventbrite registration: https://strandberg-ctmguitar.eventbrite.com/

Ken Parker: October 7th, 7.00 PM – 9.30 PM, lecture with special performance by Charlie Hunter,
at Mannes School of Music, main performance space, 150 W 85th St, New York, NY 10024
Eventbrite registration: https://kenparkerctmguitar.eventbrite.com/

Gary Lee: November 4th, 6.30 PM – 9.30 PM- lecture with special performance by Fred Hand,
at Mannes School of Music, Goldmark Hall performance space, 150 W 85th St, New York, NY 10024
Eventbrite registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/event/8962046723

Ned Steinberger: November 8th, 6.30 PM – 8.30 PM, lecture and conversation with Barry Salmon [The New School], and performance by Charles Yang and Barry Salmon.
at Goldmark Hall performance space, 150 W 85th St, New York, NY 10024
Eventbrite registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/event/8983396581

Martin E. Rosenberg: December 2, 7.00 PM – 9.30 PM, lecture: ‘What Is At Stake With the Ergonomics of Guitar Design: Fretboard Cognition, Embodiment, Collective Intelligence’, with special performances by Ratzo Harris and Dom Minasi. At Parsons Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Avenue, New York NY
Eventbrite registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/martin-e-rosenberg-future-of-guitar-guests-ratzo-harris-dom-minasi-tickets-9125818569




Ken Parker Currently building world class, innovative jazz archtop guitars in his personal shop Ken Parker Archtops, Parker was the founder of Parker guitars in 1991, a company which developed radically innovative electric guitars utilizing cutting edge manufacturing and materials.







Ned Steinberger Today designing and building both electric classical bowed instruments and electric guitars and basses with his company NS Design, Steinberger was renowned in the 1980s for his use of carbonfiber in his eponymous Steinberger ‘headless’ guitars and basses from that period.







Ola Strandberg’s line of ergonomically designed instruments extrapolate the design ideas seen in other ‘headless guitars’, and his innovations in neck profile design, CNC milling, materials, fanfret and tempered fretboards- as well as Creative Commons licensing much of his design work- make him one of the most exciting designers/builders today. CTM & Parsons will be partnering exclusively with Strandberg in Spring 2014 in a collab course studying the ‘Radical Future of Guitar’.



Gary Lee
Trained as a research scientist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry,
in 2007 Gary launched Lee Guitar Works and the transition to building guitars full-time. Gary’s research background inspires creativity, thoughtful design and exacting execution. His handcrafted classical guitars incorporate the best of traditional design with contemporary features such as adjustable-action necks, elevated fingerboards, double top laminate soundboards, bridges with 12-hole tieblocks, and rigid sides with solid linings for excellent projection.


As part of the series, CTM presents theorists and performers speaking on the current and future envelope of instrument design.

Martin E. Rosenberg wrote his dissertation on the cultural work across the arts of the scientific concept of “emergence,” beginning with Henri Poincaré, Henri Bergson, and Marcel Duchamp, and ending with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Ilya Prigogine, Francisco Varela and Thomas Pynchon. He recently published on emergent behaviors, visible in music notation, in jazz improvisation and composition, and currently researches the cognitive neuro-science of improvisers. Originally trained in jazz composition at the Berklee College of Music, he has returned (after thirty years) to performing in the Pittsburgh area.