MUSICAL youngsters have helped design, develop and create an experimental one-of-a-kind instrument which uses a solar panel to create sounds from beams of light.

Community interest company CLIP Sound and Music, which runs music workshops for young people in Colchester, has just launched the Photon Smasher.

The futuristic instrument works by using a solar panel microphone to translate the sounds made by lights shone in its direction into the likes of thumping drum beats or sci-fi synthesiser sounds.

It has been developed in workshops over the past year by youngsters who have tested and developed how it works by stacking up flashing lights and jamming along with the resulting rhythms.

The instruments have now been produced in bulk by CLIP co-founder Frazer Merrick, who called on illustrator George Yarnton to design the fairground inspired artwork and Hippo Screen Printers to create the bespoke boxes.

Suitable for ages 11 and above, the Photon Smasher is for sale now at £45, with all the profits set to be pumped back into CLIP’s work in the community.

Frazer, who is a sound artist by trade and education co-ordinator with arts charity Signals, said: “Its so exciting to be launching our very own instrument.

“We love creating sound experiments and the Photon Smasher is a great way of encouraging more people to get curious with sound.

“It is really playful and goes along with the idea we push at CLIP that anyone can produce music.

“We try to take the pressure away from music making and show you don’t need a guitar or to be able to sing to do it.

“The Photon Smasher is a really fun and different way of making music and the fact you are working with lights is really different. It is really adventurous.”

The Photon Smasher is part STEM kit and part musical instrument, encouraging users to explore the physics of light and sound by using the included LED to produce their own tunes.

Frazer, who is no stranger to experimental musical composition and last year recorded at Walton Pier for his Hidden Sounds of Coastal Arcades show on BBC 3, built the machine from scratch at his home in Colchester before it was tested and developed by CLIP members.

He said: “It took a lot of testing to create and I had to learn how to make a circuit board from scratch.

“I relied quite heavily on the advice of strangers online and some friends who pointed me in the right direction.

“There are all sorts of strange instruments out there, and some involving light, but nothing exactly like this.”

He hopes the creation of the Photon Smasher will be the first step into instrument creation for CLIP, with youngsters already having lots of other ideas ready and waiting in the pipeline.

Frazer said: “We have a whole range planned of different ways we can develop it.

“We have quite a bit of stock at the moment and with help from the Mercury Theatre’s Creatives scheme we have put together a marketing plan. That support has really helped.

“We can easily put together more as they take about an hour to create.

“At the moment we are focusing on shipping to the UK as we’re not sure how international shipping is working due to Covid.

“I would love for it to be available in shops in Colchester and that is something we are looking at for the future. I can definitely see it being sold in the shop at Firstsite, which is where we run CLIP workshops.

“The money we make will really be going towards helping us be self-sufficient and not so reliant on grant funding.

“It will help us chose which projects we do going forward with it being less based around where we can get the funding.”

The Photon Smasher is available now for £45 via the CLIP website.