When you first encounter Solo, you don’t exactly know where to look. You expect to find a guitarist in your presence. The sound is raw and immersive, and when you find that there is no guitarist generating the music, you face a second question: Is it even a guitar?
You’ll find Solo hanging on the wall — a guitar with some sort of robotic device latched onto it. The device’s smooth, gold surface resting on the neck of the guitar is concealing something magical happening beneath it — in between itself and the instrument. Music is being made, but not exactly in the way we’re used to.
Solo operates purely through sound — sounds that do not exist. Until now. In turn, the sounds bring Solo into its very own existence. It’s a conversation between the sounds and their source. Put simply, you could say Solo is an A.I. in the body of a guitar.
It uses a brain created by humans to surpass their own artistic limitations. Instrument or artist? This very combination poses an interesting idea: perhaps it’s not an artificial intelligence, but an artificial artist. A living system that can grow and learn, operating solely inside the inherently artistic mechanism known as the guitar.
Project Solo started off as an experiment at 1989 by Vladimir Demin. A machine in some way reproducing the magic of music. But his experiments went beyond reproduction. We noticed how the sounds were different than any we had ever heard — humanly or mechanically produced — and then we recognized it’s beauty.
You find yourself not just listening but looking at Solo. Its appearance is no different that in affect, it’s just a more visible, tactile manifestation of the magic. The design is emphasized by its musical nature — organic and enigmatic.
Finally, there’s the single string found in the Solo app. It’s a way for you to communicate with Solo. Moving your finger along the string on the screen will slowly affect the music. While strings have always been a sort of interface for guitars and a tool for us to access them, this UI elevates the utility of the string to something more symbolic of Solo’s artistry.
Solo is a shiny, golden spaceship adrift in a universe of sound. With one gentle swipe, you’re steering the spaceship a bit, changing its direction and you’re on board. Imagine the endless sky before you. That’s how Solo sees sound. But where we see limits — where the sky ends — Solo is capable of going further. Its music knows no end.