Lasers, Mirrors, Wands, Visualizers, Projections, et al.

Prompt

My project is designed to be in an art space ideally in a 20 x 20 space. I would want it to be entertaining and accessible to users of all musical abilities. It would have an educational element to it. I am discussing working together with another student on this project. I would like to use a wand to control pitches and feed the sound of those pitches to a transducer attached to a mirror which will reflect a laser onto the wall. I’d like to experiment with array of laser/mirror/transducer combinations and play with scales, phase, multiple transducers on one mirror and perhaps mixing in projection elements for a backing track to the experience.

Here is an example of what I would like to build off of.

User Path

I love cascading, layering, fluttering sounds, each part revealing themselves in harmony, both in pitch and timing. I would like for people to see music like I see it - from a production standpoint, keying in on individual elements and their role in painting the whole picture. The user would act almost as orchestrator and soloist. They would have control over the elements of the music, and see visual feedback as each element is layered in or out. And they could “solo” over it with the wand, either refined to scales.

Listen to this Hailu Mergia song and imagine controlling the layers and the wand being the lead organ.

Song Example

Ix Music Concept

Inspiration for our concept came from on the song “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly & Maze which is evocative of a typical African American barbecue in, say, Prospect Park. The piece would be on location, set up around the public barbecue pits and picnic tables in Prospect Park on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in late Spring. As observers approach, they hear the song wafting and mixing with the odors of sizzling meats and skewered vegetables. Lurking is a large bottle of barbecue sauce (or 5). The closer that the observers get the more they can make out the individual elements of the song, and as they enter the scene, they begin to notice that each element of the song is mapped to a specific area or feature of the barbecue. In this R&B pop song, the vocals are central much like the fact that the whole barbecue scene centers around the barbecue itself.

From here, we mapped the musical attributes of the song in emotional or sonic characteristics to specific features of the barbecue, where a loudspeaker playing each musical element would be placed next to each element of the barbecue.

Our Oblique Strategy was “Cluster Analysis” which got us thinking of song elements in groups of rhythm, chordal, and melodic.

Here are some of the groupings we brainstormed:

  • the barbecue - vocals are most important

  • neighbor’s sprinkler - high hats

  • old men playing cards - bass

  • trees, grass - rhythm guitar

  • red cups - hand claps

  • tupperware - bongos

  • dog sounds - background vocals?

  • utensils, plate crashing - cymbals

  • birds sounds - shaker

  • kids playing - ??

  • picnic table - ??