02 Apr 2019
tags:  construction  theory  abstract  

Why is it called Sycorax?

If you are not sure what the name Sycorax is referencing - here's the Wikipedia

The Obvious Reason

I had been using names from The Tempest to refer to the models of acoustic violin I have sold until recently. Continuing in that fashion, for an electric violin what other choice was there but Sycorax? I had already used Ariel.

The Awful Pun Reason

Because it is a Sick Axe. (sorry, not sorry)

The Sci-Fi Reason

Sycorax was a witch. Witches use magic, but are also connected with the natural world. Magic is an analog of technology. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

The Sycorax violin draws on the traditional structure of the violin and uses some wooden parts, and is designed in organic shapes, whilst also involving computer technology and hi-tech materials and manufacturing techniques.

This combination, which one might call maker-craft, is analogous to witchcraft.

The design of the instrument was largely created from informed intuition, a "natural" process, but the realisation of it drew heavily on coding, which is analogous to a magic spell, and robot like machines (CNC carving machine and 3D printer) which are analogous to spirits or familiars bound to do the witch's will.

The Literary Analogy Reason

Sycorax never appears on stage in The Tempest. She dies some years before Prospero comes to the island. Nevertheless she is Prospero's only worthy antagonist, even though she acts only through her legacy.

As a witch, who is now dead, but underpins the entire setting of the play, she occupies a liminal space - affecting the world but not inhabiting it.

We only learn about her through the medium of the unreliable accounts of Prospero and Caliban, and to some extent Ariel.

Likewise the Sycorax violin inhabits a liminal space, the tone is created and shaped physically and mechanically just like an acoustic, but unlike an acoustic, it interacts with the surrounding air only weakly, and is only known to us through the mutable medium of electronic amplification, which may contain distortions and shape the true sound to its own purposes, much as Propero and Caliban shape their narratives about Sycorax to support their own ends.