Ara Knaian--Rhythm Tree Electronics Design

Ara Knaian is a sophomore at M.I.T., majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He designed the computer network which links the 320 Rhythm Tree drumpads, designed the circuit in each pad, wrote a distributed real-time network operating system to run inside each drumpad, and wrote the software which analyzes the sensor data from each drum hit and transports the vital characteristics of each hit across the network in real time.

Before coming to M.I.T., Ara lived in Newton, Massachusetts. He took one violin lesson in the first grade, but quit because his scheduled lesson time conflicted with recess period. He made his stage and musical debut as Lun Tha in a summer camp production and he sang in the Newton All-City Chorus in the fifth and sixth grades. In junior high school, his voice changed, so he took piano lessons, but was never able to coordinate his clumsy fingers well enough to make anything sound like he intended. Around the same time, he discovered that writing programs in Atari BASIC to play music was a bit like playing the piano, except that the piano doesn't have a backspace key. Reading Steve Ciarcia's column in Byte Magazine got him interested in how a computer works inside, and soon he wanted to know how everything with a cord or batteries works inside. To really find out how things work, he started making things. At first, he made simple things, like clocks and amplifiers. Lately, he has been making more complicated things, like computer networks and telephone switches. He is pleased to be making music again. Like many members of the Brain Opera team, this is his Lincoln Center debut.