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.