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Leveraging MIDI to Allow Amputees to Play Music with Rick Williams | 3D Universe Untethered Episode 29

On this episode of 3D Universe Untethered, we sit down with Rick Williams, a long-time e-NABLE Volunteer and knowledgeable musician who has been serving to amputees and people with congenital limb variations to have the ability to expertise the enjoyment of taking part in music through the use of a mixture of personalized devices, custom-made prosthetic units, and the MIDI protocol.

Rick developed these strategies for himself after he suffered a horrific accident that severed his hand (which was fortunately in a position to be re-attached).

Rick shares how he’s incorporating MIDI into 3D-printed assistive units in addition to another private tasks he has been engaged on.

Rick’s Accident

Rick shares in regards to the accident that severed his hand.

It was an absolute freak accident. There was a tough drive that was caught in one of many outdated (pc) gigantic metallic circumstances. It was rusted in or one thing and simply wouldn’t come out. So I’m pulling on it and pulling on it, and it wouldn’t let go. Lastly, the drive let go, they usually don’t roll the sides of the metallic case anymore; within the outdated days, they rolled them. Properly, it severed my hand, tendons, arteries, every little thing. They mentioned I solely had 5 extra minutes to dwell as a result of I used to be bleeding out.

He goes on to clarify, “Curiously sufficient, I requested Amazon Alexa to name my spouse as a result of I used to be simply going to inform her goodbye as a result of I knew I used to be slipping. She bought on the cellphone, and it was loopy she even had her cellphone as a result of usually at work she isn’t allowed to have it. She referred to as the neighbor and informed them to get in the home it doesn’t matter what. They got here in and located me and took me to the hospital, they usually reattached my hand. The reattachment, I can’t complain; it’s higher than nothing. As a musician, that could be a massive factor to lose.”

Rick performs 12 devices and dealing on studying a thirteenth, so music has been an enormous a part of his life. It helped him pay his method via school; he’s been in quite a few bands and has finished studio work as properly.

Due to his spouse, who refused to let the surgeons amputate his hand that day, he was in some way in a position to lastly get some feeling again and begin experimenting with different methods to make music occur, not only for himself, however for amputees who believed there was no method they might be capable of play music once more.

He shares, “I wasn’t able to give up.

Using MIDI to make music with Rick Williams and his various instruments

After refusing to surrender hope and getting some feeling again into his personal hand, Rick is now working with the amputee neighborhood to assist create musical devices that use the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) protocol and permits them to find and rediscover skills they thought weren’t doable because of a limb distinction.

Let’s face it, MIDI has been the holy grail for the reason that 80s,” explains Rick.

For these that aren’t acquainted, MIDI is a protocol that has largely been used for music. It permits digital devices and varied different digital musical instruments to speak with one another. MIDI by itself doesn’t make any sound. It simply generates a collection of messages like “steady controller,” “notice on,” “notice off,” “patch change,” “pitch bend,” and extra. The messages are then interpreted by a MIDI instrument to supply the specified sound. A MIDI instrument is usually a piece of {hardware} like an digital guitar, keyboard, or synthesizer or a part of a software program atmosphere like Garageband, Digital Performer, or Logic Professional, for instance.

From creating the aptly named “sh*t-tar” from a bedpan, a guitar produced from a shovel, and way more, to serving to a younger musician play drums and different devices through the use of MIDI, Rick has develop into a godsend to those that have limb variations and need to play music.

Rick doesn’t simply cease at serving to with musical devices, nevertheless. He additionally helps to design new 3D printed prosthetics for the e-NABLE neighborhood and continues giving his time to make a distinction.

Please take the time to observe the video beneath to see among the unimaginable and distinctive work Rick has been doing for the previous 5 years, or hearken to his story on our podcast.

Rick Williams – Leveraging MIDI to Allow Amputees to Play Music | Video

The video for Episode 29 of 3D Universe Untethered is dwell on YouTube for those who want to observe and study Rick’s work. Yow will discover the hyperlink to the video right here.

Subscribe to our channel to get the subsequent episodes delivered proper to your inbox!

For these of you preferring to sit down again and hear when you navigate your life, you’ll be able to try the 3D Universe Untethered podcast of this episode right here or utilizing the participant beneath.

Extra Details about e-NABLE

To study extra in regards to the e-NABLE volunteer neighborhood, the place volunteers around the globe are serving to to offer assistive units (typically 3D printed) to folks in underserved communities, go to:

To hitch the dialogue or become involved, try the e-NABLE Hub at

To get in contact with Rick about his work, you’ll be able to ship him a non-public message on the e-NABLE Hub, or you’ll be able to electronic mail the e-NABLE assist desk at

For extra 3D Universe Untethered episodes, go to and for episodes devoted to new 3D printed e-NABLE units, please try episode 6 with Mat Bowtell and episode 15 with Mike Larson!



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