Sound Square ca. 1993

I've uploaded videos of the Sound Square, a gestural music controller project I did with Bill Tremblay back in 1993, to Youtube. Here's one of them:


Rubber Duck

I just found this free downloadable sequencer called Rubber Duck based on the TB-303 but way weirder. It was made way back in 1996. It's very fun to play with and can be downloaded here. I made some crazy sounds and scared the dog a little.

Also check out Drum Station, a free download from the same site which is an 8 track sequencer / drum machine pre-loaded with classic drum sounds, or add your own.


On the Cyber-town

Last weekend we went to the Stata Center at MIT to see the Collision Collective exhibit. My old friend Bill Tremblay was there helping out. I met Bill at MassArt back in the day. He did the actual construction and electronics on the Sound Square IR light harp.

Last night we went to see ZAP! at the Museum of Science. Bill was there, too, in charge of robotics. I told him about the FTIR table I want to build and he seems intrigued.

FTIR table DIY

I want to build an FTIR (frustrated total internal reflection) table. It looks fairly simple to build, and the result is a quite-sophisticated multi-touch interface that can be used for a variety of applications.

click image to go to source site

Here's a diagram that illustrates the FTIR principle:
image from Jeff Han

And here's a link to my delicious bookmarks on the subject: FTIR links

Arduino USB board

I just received one of these in the mail today:

"Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple i/o board, and a development environment for writing Arduino software. The Arduino programming language is an implementation of Wiring, itself built on Processing."

Monome 40h

I've ordered one of these and it should be here early next week!

From monome.org:

"the monome 40h is a reconfigurable grid of sixty-four backlit buttons.

"buttons can be configured as toggles, radio groupings, sliders, or organized into more sophisticated systems to monitor and trigger sample playback positions, stream 1-bit video, interact with dynamic physical models, and play games. button press and visual indication are decoupled by design: the correlation is established by each application."

More info: monome.org

I've been playing with some of the prebuilt applications for this thing and they are very cool. I also think it'll be a great way for me to learn some of the new applications, and many of them are open source. Currently learning about: Chuck / Audicle, Pd, Max/MSP, Processing, Wiring.

Physical Computing

Well, I've been delving back into an old interest I originally pursued in 1992. Now it even has a name: Physical Computing. I found a cool book on the subject at Amazon.com: Physical Computing - Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers by Tom Igoe & Dan O'Sullivan.

Back at school, at MassArt, I was in a program called SIM: Studio for Inter-related Media. One of my projects was a thing called the Sound Square, which was essentially an infrared light-harp, but in a grid configuration. Here are some somewhat dated but amusing video performances. There is also a brief, and incomplete, write up about the Sound Square here.

In short, it's a 7x7 grid of infrared led's and sensors, each beam is about a foot apart, with a simple circuit that allows each beam to be tuned to a different frequency, to avoid crosstalk. Each of the 14 triggers outputs a control voltage. I still have most of the parts, so I figured it might be fun to get it going again.

So 15 years later, I'm checking back into the field of interactive music and it's amazing how much has happened, how much the community has grown, how many new toys there are - yet at the same time it seems that things haven't progressed quite as far as I'd figured they would by now.

In my search for parts to get the Sound Square going, I've been running into some cool stuff, and getting lots of neat ideas foor new projects. Maybe the ole Sound Square will have to wait a while... ;)