How the Orbitar got its name

by Dr. Rod Riegle, Master of Metaphor

"The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor." - Aristotle


KRVW: “I want to create a new musical instrument and I need a name for it. And you are the King of Names.”

RR: “I am the King of Names. What’s this instrument going to look like?”

KRVW: “Like the poi I am spinning right now, only more techie.”

RR: “OK, what’s it going to sound like?”

KRVW: “We could make it sound like whatever we want. And the rhythm could fluctuate with the speed of the spinning.”

RR: “I have no idea how that would work, but I like the concept. How would you play this instrument?”

KRVW: “Maybe different poi patterns would trigger different melodies or different tones.”

RR: “Interesting. How would we decide which patterns trigger which melodies or tones?”

KRVW: “No idea.”

RR: “In order to make consistent decisions about these kinds of things, we need to understand what this instrument is at its most fundamental level. Describe poi spinning to me as if I were blind and a child.”

KRVW: “Poi is spinning a ball on the end of a string with each hand.”

RR: “It’s not really spinning, is it? Not like spinning a top, for example.”

KRVW: “OK, the balls are rotating around my hands. They make different geometric shapes in the air as they rotate.”

RR: “Hmm. What kinds of things rotate? Planets rotate around a sun; moons rotate around a planet. Aha, the balls are like orbiting satellites. So, at its most fundamental level this new musical instrument is about celestial mechanics and especially orbital dynamics.”

KRVW: “I never thought about it that way, but yeah, it is.”

RR: “So, its name should reflect that and also somehow sound like a musical instrument. Like Orbitano or Orbiphone. How about Orbitar? It sounds like guitar or sitar. And it is a string instrument.”

KRVW: “I love it.”

RR: “If you want to produce an elegant instrument, every decision you make - design, marketing, packaging, whatever - should reflect the celestial mechanics metaphor.  For example, the balls should look like satellites, the patterns they make should be called orbits, and the music should sound like, and literally convey, the actual orbital dynamics of the satellites.”

KRVW: “Perfect. Now all I have to do is invent it.”

RR: “Should be no problem. Once you have the right name, everything else is just details.”