Design for performability in nylon strung acoustic guitars

Alkin Korkmak

Mastery on musical instruments is an acquired ability, often gained by the musician’s lifelong commitment to practise for reaching high musical expression. Although, a
concrete definition of virtuosity has not been introduced yet, it would be wise to suggest that, it is affected by the playability of a musical instrument. Playability, as a
concept, can be described qualitatively or quantitatively. However, literature has random and shallow descriptions rather than coherent and unified definitions.

This PhD study intends to shed light on virtuosity and how to reach it especially from early periods of training by elaborating on two concepts, playability and performability from different perspectives. Therefore, it seeks to understand how different stakeholders in music production, i.e. luthiers, performers and composers, interpret those terms.

Eventually, it aims to explore the extent to which superiority in musical performance could be improved by industrial design –that is, whether the concept of “design for performabilty” can be articulated and realised; or superiority in musical expression can be boosted by training aids and design interventions. The study aims to understand the links between (a) theorising and formulating the concepts of “superiority in musical performance and expression”, “performability”, and “playability” (b) understanding and theorising product qualities of musical instruments which offer improved playability (c) identifying the necessary qualities to become a virtuoso and designing training aids to simplify these steps (d) elevating performability through product design interventions
Design for performability in nylon strung acoustic guitars

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