Play Music with your Painting Using Teensy

[sab-art], a collaboration between [Sophia Brueckner] and [Eric Rosenbaum], has created a touch-sensitive musical painting. Initially, basic acrylic paint is used for the majority of the canvas. Once that is dry, conductive paint is used to make the shapes that will be used for the capacitive touch sensing. As an added step to increase the robustness, nails are hammered through each painted shape and connected with wiring in the back of the painting. These wires are then connected to the inputs of a Teensy++ 2.0, using Arduino code based on MaKey MaKey to output MIDI. The MIDI is then sent to a Mac Mini which then synthesizes the sound using Ableton Live.  Any MIDI-processing software would work, though. For this particular painting, external speakers are used, but incorporating speakers into your own composition is certainly possible.

A nice aspect of this project is that it can be as simple or as complex as you choose. Multiple conductive shapes can be connected through the back to the same Teensy input so that they play the same sound. While [sab-art] went with a more abstract look, this can be used with any style. Imagine taking a painting of Dogs Playing Poker and having each dog bark in its respective breed’s manner when you touch it, or having spaceships make “pew pew” noises. For a truly meta moment, an interactive MIDI painting of a MIDI keyboard would be sublime. [sab-art] is refining the process with each new painting, so even more imaginative musical works of art are on the horizon. We can’t wait to see and hear them!

[via Instructables]

5 thoughts on “Play Music with your Painting Using Teensy

  1. This looks and sounds beautiful! What a great idea!

    It seems like it could use a varnish to seal it so the painting isn’t discolored.

    I would want to make this a standalone creation in my home and not need a dedicated PC. Does anyone know of a cheap midi synthesizer? I wonder if I could buy a cheap, used keyboard and hack it down to just it’s midi synthesizing circuitry.

    1. You can definitely find cheap used MIDI synths and strip them down, thrift stores often have them for under $20, I found a perfectly good one someone had thrown in the trash because the battery cover was missing and they probably lost the wall wart power supply! All you need to do is open it up remove the keyboard strip header from the main board and remount the speakers, the connections are usually pretty obvious even for a novice hacker though some keyboards may have separate daughter boards you may need to keep in the circuit for the MIDI/audio connectors, power input, etc. Most cheap synths I have opened up are mostly air once you remove the keyboard and the working guts would fit in a much smaller case, however, your mileage may vary.

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