The idea behind the Skin Cello (2016) was to deconstruct the power of the traditional cello as an instrument, to change relationship to it, and also to create more sound possibilities through the use of different construction materials. Khabat Abas came to the idea of the Skin Cello in response to her experiences as a performer in the war-torn environment of Kurdistan-Iraq, where compromises and work-arounds are part of daily life. In 2016 she designed the Skin Cello as a mix between the Middle Eastern daf (a type of frame drum) and a Western cello.
The change in the materials radically changes the cello’s sound. This unstable instrument cannot be tuned, because the bridge is fixed to a malleable skin: the string length and tension varies as the bridge moves up and down. The instrumental resonance is therefore also variable. With this change of material, the Skin Cello becomes; an instrument that draws on a particular historical practice while at the same time estranging itself from it and inviting new possibilities of performance