Finalist category: Accessibility Award
Accessibility Award, Winner, 2020
Available on iPad and PC, Clarion is an innovative digital instrument that can be played with any part of the body using mouse or finger touch, but also head movement or eye movement. It works seamlessly with assistive technology like Eyegaze or Infrared head trackers, removing the barriers that can come with a conventional instrument’s shape, size or the need to bow, pluck or blow it.
Clarion is highly expressive – the sound it makes is down to how each note is hit; and can be customised to meet a musicians’ needs. Through settings, they can choose from a variety of sounds, arrange notes in patterns, decide where the loudest and quietest point of each note should be.
Clarion has been developed with young disabled people and their teachers by the charity Open Up Music. Since 2015, Clarion has powered the development of accessible youth orchestras. Played alongside conventional instruments in special schools’ Open Orchestras around the country and by members of the National Open Youth Orchestra, the world’s first disabled-led national ensemble, Clarion has made it possible for young disabled people to start shaping the musical landscape – not just as listeners of music, but as musicians.
Beyond enabling first-time access to music-making, Clarion provides talented musicians with an instrument they can show prowess at. Starting to play Clarion doesn’t require musical skills, but like all good instruments, it will take practice to play well.
The teams ambition is to make Clarion a professional grade orchestral instrument, comparable in its range to traditional instruments. Through alliances with tech specialists, professional orchestras, composers, accreditation bodies and disabled musicians, we can develop an accessible instrument worthy of disabled musician’s passions, abilities, and hard work.
Clarion can play a crucial part in driving the agenda for greater representation for disabled people in the orchestral world.