This site relates to the life and work of Oriscus "Oz" Zauberflote, virtual luthier, builder, scripter in metaversal worlds.


Primcutter: An Exhibition of Work
by Oriscus Zauberflöte

Nov. 23, 2009 - March 15, 2010
University of KY Island, virtual William T. Young Library

Primcutter in Virtual WTYL"Primcutter" was an exhibition of the work of Oriscus "Oz" Zauberflote. In real life, Oz is a musicologist and the mild-mannered public information coordinator for a university school of music. But his alter-ego in SL is a master architect and builder of musical instruments which have won praise from a global audience. This exhibition shows scale models of many of his SL buildings, including several within walking distance on University of KY island. Also shown is a scaled down Gutenberg style printing press, many unusual musical instruments (including a massive playable carillon on a flatbed truck outside), and various woodworking tools and medical instruments. The exhibition is sponsored by the virtual William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky's SL sim.

Images from the opening:

Texts from the exhibits:

Creating Low-Prim Architectural Details

The concrete railing you see is created in SL using prims. Each stile on the railing contains 12 prims. Add top and bottom rails and this one segment of railing uses 98 prims. The railing running around this platform uese about 45 segments. Thus, to create this railing using full prims, it would require the use of over 4400 prims. Just under a third of the total allowed on the entire island. This is clearly not an option. So the simple way to do something like this is to build one segment like this, take a picture of it, drop out the background, and upload it to SL as a texture.

Manipulating the texture in Photoshop allows us to tweak shadows and lighting. Thus the window grid gets its dimensionality from drop shadow and cotouring tools, while getting perspective depth by photographing a dimensional object in SL.

The results are fairly convincing, especially in architectural details where viewers are not looking at them up close.


Look at the broken ring and the tiny pink sphere. These are nanoprims. The white cube with black markings is one cubic centimeter -- the smallest normal prim possible. Each mark represents one millimeter. A smaller object can be made by cutting, twisting, and hollowing a 1cm. prim -- a process commonly called "torturing." These are not peculiar prims in the way megaprims are (those over 10m). These are normal prims that have been manupulated using the normal editing tools.

Another interesting fact it that textures on small prims retain all the resolution of a larger prim. Thus you are able to read this text perfectly, just by moving your camera close enough to see it.

Gutenberg Press

This is a small version of the famed Gutenberg printing press. It's basically a hybrid of the original type and the modified half scale press made by Victor Hammer and still in use at the King Library Press in the basement of the Margaret I. King Library building on the University of Kentucky campus. The King Library Press has an important collection of antique letterpresses, most of which are operable. They have regular workshops, exhibits, and lectures dealing with book arts. I've attended several of these and the Hammer press is the inspiration for this object in SL. See:

I gained my interest in printing as a child from my father, who inherited an old cast iron lever press from his uncle, who was a small town pharmacist in rural Illinois. Uncle Frank used the press to print stationery, business cards, product labels, etc. My father and my brothers all played with the press. We used it to print our annual family Xmas cards, which were carved by my father in linoleum blocks. Later, he experimented with other means of printing, including silk screen and a simple hectograph that my mother used to print newsletters for her cub scout parents group. I eventually inherited the iron press myself, but had to sell it when it proved too cumbersome to move. It went to a UK art professor who used it for some years. She then moved and I lost track of it. Much to my surprise and delight I discovered our old family press has gained a new life as part of the King Library collection. You can read about that press on my website at:

-Oriscus "Oz" Zauberflote

Theatrum Instrumentorum, by Kithara Associates, luthiers.
Touch posters to rez objects!

In 1619, the composer and musical scholar Michael Praetorius published his monumental treatise, "Syntagma Musicum." The second of its three volumes, titled "De Organographia" classifies, describes and depicts the many musical instruments familiar in his day. The details of tuning, range, dimensions, etc., are of tremendous value to modern scholars of historical musical instruments (organologists). In 1620, a supplement to this volume was published, titled "Theatrum Instrumentorum," consisting of 42 woodcuts, executed to scale, of the instruments discussed in the text of De Organographia. These volumes are a virtual encyclopedia of high renaissance and early baroque musical instruments, including courtly, sacred, and popular.

Kithara Associates uses the Theatrum as an inspiration for this display. While our collection is hardly comprehensive, the intent is to show instruments that are not commonly available elsewhere, or that are of the best possible quality. We don't make guitars or pianos because there are lots of makers already doing excellent work on those instruments. For information about Kithara Associates, IM Oriscus Zauberflote or FreeWee Ling.


A large lute of the 17th and 18th centuries with extended bass range suitable for baroque continuo playing. The archlute is a somewhat more compact version of the "theorbo," which was often upwards of two meters long.

The standard European cello is the low member of the violin family. Such instruments are very difficult to reproduce accurately in SL because of their complex curved parts. This is a superior example to most available, but there are still hurdles to cross.

Vielle (Medieval Fiddle)
The vielle evolved from similar plucked instruments when the hair bow arrived in Europe from the Middle East around the eleventh century. There were many variations on this instrument, but most were wimply carved out of a solid block of wood and then a soundboard attached. They might be played on the knee, as in this picture, against the chest, or under the chin similarly to a modern violin. They may be fretted or unfretted.

The Chinese two-stringed fiddle has becaome the primary solo instrument of the Chinese string orchestra. Lacking a fingerboard, the fingers slide very easily along the strings, allowing a very fluid portamento and great flexibility for ornamentation. Its expressive qualities have allowed it to remain a virtuoso's solo instrument despite its relatively limited range and thin tone as compared to the western violin.

Praetorius Recorders
The image in this display shows a page from the Theatrum of Michael Preatorius. The Renaissance recorder differs from the more modern Baroque type in that they are generally larger in diameter and tend, therefore, to have more of an organ pipe sound, requiring more air from the player.

The portativ (sic) is, as the name suggests, a very portable organ. It is played with one hand while the other operates the bellows pump (though sometimes an assistant might be enlisted for that purpose). Portativs range in size from a small lap-sized instrument to something requiring two hefty individuals to lift. Our instrument has two ranks of pipes, one in wood and one in metal, which can be played separately or coupled.

The archlute is a Baroque period development to expand the dept and range of the conventional renaissance lute. It was used as a "continuo" instrument similar to (and occasionally in addition to) a harpsichord. The tuning is usually similar to the conventional lute, but with the addition of the extended base string that are played unfretted and are tuned in a scalar manner. It it basically a compromise between the tenor lute and the theorbo, lacking the power of the tenor range or the depth of the larger therobo, but gaining significantly in verstility.

The sitar is the most famous of Indian stringed instruments. Despite its many strings, almost all of the melodic playing is performed on only the first string, the others being drones ans sympathetics. The flat bridges ontribute to the buzzing quality of the tone. The highly arched frets allow the player to alter the pitch of notes by up to a third by pulling the string to the side (aka "bending").

Kithara Associates MetaLuthiers

The Kithara group is involved in research and development of musical instruments in SL. Our intent is to make instruments that are reasonably authentic in appearance in order to enhance the immersive experience of SL as a virtual environment for learning about music and musical cultures. Our work at this time is fully for the purpose of learning and sharing. While some objects may eventually end up being offered for sale, commerce is not our primary interest. We currently have no items that are completely finished (they are primarily lacking quality animations), so we are unable to provide copies except under certain restrictions for research purposes.

The Kitahara group is currently the work of musicologist Oriscus "Oz" Zauberflote and my colleague FreeWee Ling. Some objects were made almost entirely by one or the other of us, but most have been made in close collaboration. We have chosen to make this an informal business partnership in order to promote learning rather than egos. We each bring knowledge and skills to the projects and they would not be what they are without our mutual collaboration and respect.

We welcome others who might have special skills to add to our projects in the spirit of learning. We are especially seeking quality animators and prim sculptors. We are happy to share information with other SL luthiers. We hope this collaboration will further the development of live music making here. Please IM Oriscus Zauberflote if you would like to participate, or otherwise have questions about our projects.


The Kithara Shrine Project

The Kithara Associates are primarily makers of musical instruments. But we also share an interest in comparative belief systems. The Kithara Shrine Project evolved from a conversation I had with my collegue, FreeWee Ling, about sacred space and sacred structure. Free and I worked on these projects together, but I must credit her with much of the work and design inspiration. They were truly a collaboration.

The Kithara Shrine Rezzer is an ecumenical device. It attempts to provide a place of worship or meditation to people of any faith, allowing it to accomodate diversity of belief within a single space. (If only we could place such a device in Jerusalem.) Towards this end, the Shrine Rezzer has a number of religious structures, any of which can be produced just by touching the rezzer device. We have tried to be respectful in honoring different faiths. If you see something about any of our structures that is not correct or is offensive in any way, please bring it to our attention.

Currently installed in the Shrine Rezzer are:

Muslim Mosque
Christian Chapel
Jewish Synagogue
Shinto Shrine

We are working on Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, and non-denominational shrines to be added as they are completed. No timetable has been established for the development of new facilities, but if you have a special need, please let us know and we'll see if we can accommodate you in a timely fashion.

Kithara Associates currently consists of musicologists Oriscus Zauberflote and FreeWee Ling. If you have any questions, please feel free to IM either of us.