CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT - CymaSpace

From Auditory to Visual: How the Deaf Community Sees Music

Myles de Bastion comes from an artistic family where music has always been an important part of his life. But as Myles’ hearing started to deteriorate, he needed to create other ways to explore music so he began resting his chin on his guitar while playing. While being able to feel the notes vibrate, Myles continued to play and make music.

CymaSpace Founder and president of the board of directors, Myles de Bastion.

CymaSpace Founder and president of the board of directors, Myles de Bastion.

He then began exploring more ways to bring music to the deaf community, since there are few musicians who are deaf or hard of hearing. One of his first projects was a chair that vibrated based on audio input. He kept working on this, just as a hobby at first, and created a string of LED lights that illuminate based on music that’s being played.

From there, he began teaching himself more about electronics and created the non profit, CymaSpace. CymaSpace’s mission is to “make the performing arts more accessible and inclusive to Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.”  

Myles, along with several other volunteers, create art that involves more of the senses. They translate sound into something visual by designing spectacular light shows to accompany sound. The designs have become more complex and involved, not only a response to the music, but to the tones and pitch so that the experience is much more visual. 

CymaSpace's piano being played at omsi.

CymaSpace's piano being played at omsi.

At CymaSpace, they rely heavily on technology to create their designs. One of CymaSpace’s more spectacular projects was adding lights and electronics to a standard piano, giving a spectacular light show for anyone watching the piano being played. The piano spent time at OMSI for any visitor to play as they arrived.

CymaSpace is building its community. Not only is it important to Myles to create a space for the deaf and hard of hearing community to make art, but he wants to build awareness within Portland about those artists, something Myles says is severely lacking.

Audience members experience a CymaSpace show through this specially made bench through which music is a tactile experience.

Audience members experience a CymaSpace show through this specially made bench through which music is a tactile experience.

CymaSpace hosts events as a way to share art and music by the deaf community. About once a month, a show including performing art that is visual, auditory, and tactile is open to the Portland community to attend.

CymaSpace is a new organization, but has big plans for the community. Keep tabs on their work by checking out their website: www.cymaspace.org.