Last semester I recorded myself reading the first page of my favorite book ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R. Tolkien. I recorded myself a few times so that I was able to change my inflection. I thought that it would be interesting to recreate the the song ‘Concerning Hobbits’ by Howard Shore using only generative processing of my voice. After a few hours of work, I realized this was a much larger task than what I anticipated and the outcome was very abstracted from the original music. I was still very excited with the amount of experience I gained in experimenting in both LogicX and Protools. After the first 30 seconds of the song were abstracted I overlaid my voice recording and added in the underlay of the original song to be compared. It was interesting how abstracted everything became and I hope to edit this project much further in order to create the entire song.
In this short experiment, my goal was to create an atmosphere with some elements of a familiar setting, and other elements that would cause the listener to question the environment. I exclusively used field recordings, but processed each sample to varying degrees, allowing some elements to remain recognizable and other elements to be transformed into curious effects.
What does it mean to push sound to it’s limit? Sound doesn’t have limits except maybe 20-20kHz. The imagination however is extremely limited.
This piece doesn’t even begin to push any of these.
But the sound design for music workshop was a valuable reminder that paying attention to how sounds are arranged on the micro level can yield very good results.
I also explored in a more limited way how many directions i could move a sound at once.
One element I am interested in including in the Metamorphosis section of the installation is some tracks inspired by the flapping of a butterflies wings. This PD patch attempts to create a couple “fluttery” drones, and randomly reverberate these drones to create a more dynamic feeling. Download the txt file and change the extension to .pd and it should open. randomreverb
Sonification of an Eye
I have always been fascinated by eyes. The colors, shapes, and textures of a person’s iris are as unique to that individual as their fingerprints, and so identifiable that biometric systems are able to identify one person from another with ease.
For my project, I sought to sonify the iris, to create an experimental composition based on the characteristics of my own eye. First, I needed to photograph my eye. I did this simply using a macro attachment for my phone. With a base image to work with, I then converted the image of my eye from polar to rectangular coordinates. This has the effect of “unwrapping” the circular form of the eye, so that it forms a linear landscape. These “unwrapped” eyes remind me somewhat of spectrogram images; this was one of the observations that inspired this project.
Next, I sought to sonify this image. How could I read it like a score? I settled on using Metasynth, which conveniently contains a whole system for reading images as sound. However, the unprocessed image was difficult to change into anything but chaotic noise, so to develop the different “instruments” in my composition, I processed the original image quite a bit.
Using ImageJ, a program produced by the National Institute of Health, I was able to identify and separate the various features in my eye into several less complicated images. These simpler images were much easier to transform into sound. Separating the color channels of the image allowed me to create different drones; identifying certain edges, valleys and fissures allowed me to develop the more “note like” elements of the composition.
These are just a few of the layers I created for use in my soundscape; there were seven in total. In Metasynth, I was able to import these images and read them like scores. Each layer has a different process, but this is the general premise: I would pass a wave or noise (I chose pink noise for most tracks) into a wavesynth, grainsynth, or sampler. I would define the size of the image, and a tone map to divide that image into frequencies based on the pixels of the image. For instance, a micro-32 map would divide my 512 pixel high image into 16 notes. I am still working on an understanding of exactly how Metasynth works, but from this point the synthesizer can read the image like a score. Through experimentation, I developed a loop from each of the 7 images I had processed from the photograph of my eye. Each loop represented one rotation around the contours of the eye.
In Audacity, I took all of these loops and mixed them into an experimental composition. As a visual aid to what is being played, I re-polarized the images to produce the video I played in class. The sweeping arm across the image is representative of the location on the eye that is being sonified at that time, however since I was creatively mixing between layers in the composition (vs just fading between one image layer to the next in the video) it wasn’t always easy to understand the connection between image and sound. A further improvement to this project would be to create a video where the opacity of the image layers is representative of the exact mixing I was doing in the audio track.
Because the sound produced by a nylon string guitar decays quickly after a string is plucked, the instrument is not very useful for long sustained notes. Inspired by the sustain pedal present on most pianos, I created a software patch in Max 7 that allows the users to use a MIDI foot medal as an enhanced sustain pedal for guitar. By pressing on the foot pedal buttons, a guitarist can freeze their current sound and artificially sustain it, and overlay up to 5 sustained sounds on top of each other. The guitarist can also use the pedal to slowly fade out all currently sustained sounds, or just the last one they added.
Hardware For this project I attached a bridge pickup to a classical guitar, and sent the analog signal through a MOTU 4pre and into my laptop. For the foot pedal, I used a Logidy UMI3 MIDI foot controller.
Software I used Jean Francois Charles’ freeze patch as a starting point for my patch to save a matrix of FFT data for a given sample. This sample is then repeatedly resythesized using an inverse FFT to produce the drone, with some rev3 reverb added on top. Several drones are able to be sustained at once by adding the signals. Starting and stoping the drones is done gradually using the line object.
Using Max I created my own convolution simulator. I played around with a simulator from an outside source that was shown to me last semester. I then used old Impulse response recordings from around campus to change the location on will. I also downloaded some other IR recordings from free sound sites.
I also added a visual component to the Patch because I wanted to know the waveform of the Ir was doing, and what the sound looked like after going through the IR.
I also tried to get a variety of sounds to play through each space, from drums, drones, and low frequencies, to horns, speech,kalimba, songs, and ambient noise. I also added a ADC to the patch so people can set up a microphone and create their own noise and hear was it would sound like if they were standing in a different room.
Heres and example of the changing sounds you could play with:
The patch was set up to be user friendly, so that an audience member use and listen to the patch with little to no assistance.
The Patch code can be found here:
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My goal for this project was to use the Leapmotion controller to create a rhythmic composition. I’d tried a few different kinds of drum sequencers with varied and less than musical results, and was on to trying to use it to ‘play drums in the air’ when i got the idea of using the Grabstrength and Pinchstrength measurements from the Leapmostion object to edit parameters.
I mapped the angular position of my hand to the playback position of a pinch of audio I’d loaded into Grainstretch~ and used Grabstrength to select a point to Jump back to periodically. I could then Pinch and drag vertically to lengthen or shorted that period.
I threw that on top of a rhythmic delay loop I’d built earlier in the semester and just jammed. The controls are still a little sketchier than I’d like. Future development will include different systems for monitoring data from pinch and grab strength and maybe more specific machine learning for gestural control. (apologies for the glitchyness of the video, I couldn’t hear the output and my computer my computer was running a little too hot) https://gist.github.com/anonymous/8bbfc42c4f1f2dc5ec2c6e0205e1258d
Due: Wed, March 29
This shall be an experimental sound synthesis project that you execute independently. It may take the form of a live performance, an audio/video/audio-video recording that is presented in class, an installation that is set up in the Media Lab (or some nearby location), or a research presentation. You will have five minutes total in which to present so make sure you are ready to rock at the drop of a hat. If you choose to present research you will be expected to present a tight, compelling, informative, and insightful slideshow and discussion.