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Airwave Pong Style!

Wave you hands in the air and pong it like you just don't care!

I like old stuff: it has a story, it is used. it has flaws.
And exactly those imperfections are interesting. Waba-Sabi you know?

That's why I ditched all my CD's and moved back to Vinyl,
and that's also why In my opinion most "pre-computer music" sounds better.

When you take a basic step sequencer or midi program, it's a robot: all notes are aligned on a fixed grid and it usually takes some effort to get a "human feel" to your music.


Now what if you could ease it up a bit in a fun way?
Let's take the graphical representation of a "beat" in most common step sequencers.
and let's take this thought one step further: the graphical representation defines the music, right?
So what if we alter the graphics, would the music change too?
For example, if we want to add a fade, we can just as well use photoshop to add some blur, right?

And if we want to loosen up that fixed grid, why not use a graphical filter to make it more "wobbly"

This way we can use graphical tools to mold your music into a more organic shape.

And more!
What if we could "read" any image in a musical way?
An image consists of lot's of coloured dots, each dot has some info we can use. on a computer screen, this is for example the amount of red, green and blue and the transparency.
We can sample that info from an image and use it for something musical.
An example: move you mouse over this image of a jungle, to explore it in an audio-way. (Well ... after you click on it to open the demo, right?)


To pour that into something musical, we can use "the bouncing ball" effect: a ball bouncing around in a rectangular box has 2 rhythms that are both fixed but as the sides of the box are not equal, the rhythms are constantly shifting.
It has the predicable structure of a beat box, but also the unpredictability of 2 patterns intermingling: Exactly the interesting effect we are looking for.
Try it out for yourselves!

(Seriously: leave it running on chrome or safari for a few hours: it's very relaxing!)


Of course we don't have to use a static image, we can use a video or ... a camera!
That is when things really get interesting: when you connect a camera as your graphical/musical input source, you can interact with your musical model live, in front of your camera.
Add a little motion-tracking and color-tracking, and you get a pretty accurate way of triggering musical events using your webcam.
To go all the way back to music software, we can even add some MIDI to trigger midi events using your webcam, and to record everything you do in your midi sequencer to take it further along towards a full musical production.

Wham! Before you know it, you got yourself a playful musical instrument.

Of course, it's a bit hard to control. It's probably wise to limit yourself with some quantization or some predefined chord schematics to get the sound you want.

Fiddling around with all my prototype toys, I created this demo song - I call it "Airwave pong" (You now: Wave you hands in the air in front of your webcam - combined with pong)

To be honest, I had to do a lot of post-processing on the midi data ... my motion tracking routines are somewhat crude and fly all over the place.

If you want to try it out for yourself, come find me a Barcamp Antwerp 7 this saturday, where I will be doing a live demo and will release all the tools I used.

Yes indeed: barcamp STILL is one of the most inspiring events EVER.
The concept is simple: short and open talks about anything you're passionate about. The presentations won't be perfect, but they will be real and honest, which makes them far more valuable then about 90% of al other talks on "professional" events.
So if you happen to be in the vicinity of Antwerp, do yourself a favour and drop by #BCA7
I can't wait !

Foto door Simon Schoeters