Music Arts blog

M.A.K.E. - Ruth Carruthers

22 Dec 2016

M.A.K.E. - Musical Audio Kinetic Electronics. Students from Ara Music Arts create their own instruments combining the physical with the electronic.

Sound project: Ruth Carruthers

The initial concept I started with was using the pressure inside balloons to control pitch and volume of a synth but the idea evolved in to using a Space Hopper to allow for more movement in the performance.

The volume of the notes would be controlled by sensing the pressure of the air inside the space hopper which would change with weight of the person on it. We first had to test a number of sensor options to fins one which was sensitive enough to detect the small change in pressure inside the hopper. The sensor was then placed in a small 3d printed chamber with a plug that allowed the air from inside the hopper to pressurise the chamber. The pressure information from the sensor travelled via means of an XBee wireless link (a sort of wireless USB cable) to an Arduino board.

The pitch of the notes were controlled via a Pixy camera that allows the tracking of coloured objects. Moving the space hopper left and right increased and decreased the pitch of the note produced. The solid bright colour of the space hopper made it easy for the camera to track. The notes were to sustain so chords could be made and moving the hopper a long way to the right was supposed to reset it but this proved slightly unreliable in practice.

 Using the volume and pitch information the Arduino sent notes to a keyboard connected via midi.

M.A.K.E. - Caleb Waiari

09 Dec 2016

M.A.K.E. - Musical Audio Kinetic Electronics. Students from Ara Music Arts create their own instruments combining the physical with the electronic.

Sound 3 Instrument build – Caleb Waiari

Video-Hero

Initially the plan was to control something using a guitar hero controller, but I didn't know what or how it would work. With the help of Dave (Cooper), we developed a way to control video through a program using the guitar hero controller to change different settings within the program. 

How it works

What we did was we bought a wireless receiver so that we can receive the signal from the guitar-hero controller. This wireless receiver was plugged into a device called an Arduino and the Arduino device was plugged into my laptop. When I played a note or pressed a button on the guitar-hero controller, the wireless receiver sent all the information through the Arduino and the Arduino sent the information into my laptop. We sent all the information into a program called VPT7, which allowed us to control different things about video depending on our setting. 

VPT7 is a free software where you can upload little video clips and manipulate them by messing with various setting such as mixing two clips together, warping the clips, fading in fading out, cycling between different clips, and even changing between the webcam. Because we could send all the Guitar-hero controller information to the laptop, we were able to manipulate the videos using the guitar-hero controller. This required a little bit of programming to make sure that pressing button 1 on the controller would do something different than pressing button 2 etc. 

We ended up using the whammy bar on the controller to control the fade in of the video, so pressing the whammy all the way down will fade the video all the way in. You could also control the blend of 2 clips by holding down the green button and fading the two clips together using the whammy bar. We also made it so that holding down the blue button and using the whammy cycles through the clips, so we could change what the audience was seeing on screen. 

I was able to upload my own clips of my choice so I had about 5 different clips of cool nature shots that I really enjoyed, along with the 5 default clips that come with VPT7. However, I found that I could only cycle through the first 5 clips that showed up within the program (I found this out too late), so while doing the performance I couldn't show all the nature clips I had gathered. 

Overall the instrument build worked pretty well. There was a bit of a problem with my clips and not being able to cycle through them all but apart from that it worked pretty smoothly thanks to the help of Dave. 

M.A.K.E. - David Cloughley

02 Dec 2016

M.A.K.E. - Musical Audio Kinetic Electronics. Students from Ara Music Arts create their own instruments combining the physical with the electronic.

The idea for the assignment came when Dave handed me a Bluetooth motion sensor and said “Think of something funny to hold”. I then spent some time thinking and offering up suggestions to Dave. After finding one that we agreed with I went ahead with the idea of holding a boxing glove.

We spent some time programing the sensor, calibrating the acceleration and sensitivity. We set the sensor so that fast acceleration (a punching motion) would trigger a note. To give more sonic possibilities we set more controls to manipulate the sounds that the sensor could make. This included roll, horizontal movement and vertical movement. After the computer programing I then strapped the sensor into the boxing glove with some black tape. I used black tape because it disguised the sensor really well and helped it to blend into the colour of the glove. I also used this tape because it was convenient and the only tape available.

On performance day Hamish helped me make some sounds for the motion sensor to control. We connected the motion sensor to an iMac via Bluetooth and ran all the sounds through Main Stage 3, which is a program that produces digital sound for live performance. After each new sound was made I would test it with the glove and practice the different movements that manipulated which sound would be produced. We made a list of three different sounds that we shifted through throughout the performance. The first sound was a guitar. The roll triggered a wah pedal and moving up and down manipulated the pitch. The second sound was a synthesizer which had a filter sweep as the roll and pitch as the horizontal movement. The final sound Hamish and I decided to make was a drum trigger. When I punched straight with my fist facing up a snare sound would trigger and when I punched with my fist facing down and kick sample was triggered. The performance was really funny with random noises everywhere and a total ciaos of sounds. Most things seemed to surprisingly work really well. All in all, it was a fun project and I’m very happy with how my instrument turned out.