Step sequencers are fantastic instruments, but they can be a little, well, repetitive. At it’s core, the step sequencer is a pretty simple device: it loops through a series of notes or phrases that are, well, sequentially ordered into steps. The operator can change the steps while the sequencer is looping, but it generally has a repetitive feel, as the musician isn’t likely to erase all of the steps and enter in an entirely new set between phrases.
Enter our old friend machine learning. If we introduce a certain variability on each step of the loop, the instrument can help the musician out a bit here, making the final product a bit more interesting. Such an instrument is exactly what [Charis Cat] set out to make when she created the After Eight Step Sequencer.
The After Eight is an eight-step sequencer that allows the artist to set each note with a series of potentiometers (which are, of course, housed in an After Eight mint tin). The potentiometers are read by an Arduino, which passes MIDI information to a computer running the popular music-oriented visual programming language Max MSP. The software uses a series of Markov Chains to augment the musician’s inputted series of notes, effectively working with the artist to create music. The result is a fantastic piece of music that’s different every time it’s performed. Make sure to check out the video at the end for a fantastic overview of the project (and to hear the After Eight in action, of course)!
[Charis Cat]’s wonderful creation reminds us of some the work [Sara Adkins] has done, blending human performance with complex algorithms. It’s exactly the kind of thing we love to see at Hackaday- the fusion of a musician’s artistic intent with the stochastic unpredictability of a machine learning system to produce something unique.
Thanks to [Chris] for the tip!
Continue reading “Making Minty Fresh Music With Markov Chains: The After Eight Step Sequencer”
Ever wonder what your favorite board game sounds like? Neither did we. Thankfully [Sara Adkins] did, and created a step sequencer called Let’s Go that uses the classic board game Go as input.
In the game Go, two players place black and white tokens on a grid, vying for control of the board. As the game progresses, the configuration of game pieces gets more complex and coincidentally begins to resemble Conway’s Game of Life (or a weird QR Code). Sara saw music in the evolving arrangement of circles and transformed the ancient board game into a modern instrument so others could hear it too.
To an observer, [Sara’s] adaptation looks fairly indistinguishable from the version played in China 2,500 years ago — with the exception of an overhead webcam and nearby laptop, of course. The laptop uses OpenCV to digitize the board layout. It feeds that information via Open Sound Control (OSC) into popular music creation software Max MSP (though an open-source version could probably be implemented in Pure Data), where it’s used to control a step sequencer. Each row on the board represents an instrumental voice (melodic for white pieces, percussive for black ones), and each column corresponds to a beat.
Every new game is a new piece of music that starts out simple and gradually increases in complexity. The music evolves with the board, and adds a new dimension for players to interact with the game. If you want to try it out yourself, [Sara] has the project fully documented on her website, and all of the code is available on GitHub. Now we’re just left wondering what other games sound like — [tinkartank] already answered that question for chess, but what about Settlers of Catan?
Continue reading “Making Music With A Go Board Step Sequencer”
[Edward] wanted a different way to modulate notes on his MIDI controller, so he decided to go touchless. Inspired by the pressure-sensing modulation on his Edirol keyboard, [Edward] aligned eight sensors into a row of playable notes and used infrared to sense the distance of a player’s hand from the keys. He also included some function buttons to cycle through 10 octaves and RGB LEDs beneath the table that perform alongside the music.
He chose SHARP GP2D120 sensors (direct link to datasheet) for their low threshold, which allowed the board to detect distance close to the sensor. Each is mounted onto a sheet of frosted acrylic along with its own “hold note” button and an LED to indicate the key is playing. The lower panel houses an Arduino Mega that drives the system along with an RGB LED strip and its driver board. [Edward] used Maxuino and OSC-Route to interface the Mega to a Max/MSP patch which runs the show.
Learn more about the FlightDeck’s features in a video demonstration of the controller and the software after the break, then check out some other MIDI hacks like this organ pedal or the Arduino-driven MIDI sequencer.
Continue reading “FlightDeck: A “Touchless” MIDI Controller”
Dig out an old cell phone, hit the dollar store for some plastic recorders, and build this sound controlled snake game for your next party. The project will be a snap for those comfortable working with microcontrollers, and a great learning experience if you’re looking to try your first Arduino project.
[László] and his friend call the project the Snake Charmer. As shown in the clip after the jump it uses music notes to direct the path of the solid line in the classic cellphone game of snake. But this isn’t just some PC-based rip-off. They’re playing on the actual cellphone. A camera points at the screen to project it for the enjoyment of spectators. The control scheme uses relays soldered to the pads of the four directional buttons. The pitches are being detected by a Max/MSP program, with the corresponding commands pushed to the Arduino via USB. Yep, it’s overkill but the point was to get this up and running quickly and with a minimum of work. We’d say they succeeded.
Actually, now that we think of it, this isn’t a two player game. Perhaps the recorder control concept needs to be applied to a more modern version of the game.
Continue reading “Recorder Controlled Snake Game Played On A Nokia 6110”
[Munki] enjoys using his Kaoss Pad MIDI controller to add a new dimension to his music while playing guitar. The only thing that bothers him about the Kaoss Pad interface is that it can be difficult to trigger or alter effects in the middle of a bitchin’ guitar solo. He started looking around to see if there was a way to control the Kaoss Pad wirelessly via a touchscreen and found that with a little tweaking, his iPhone was a perfect candidate for the job.
He grabbed a copy of TouchOSC from the AppStore and configured it to communicate with his computer. After building an interface for his iPhone, he taped it to his guitar and gave it a try. Everything seemed to work pretty well, but he didn’t stop there – he also wanted to control Ableton Live and Max MSP from his iPhone. It took a bit of research and some tinkering with the Live API, but he eventually got everything working together nicely as you can see in the video below.
If you are interested in trying this out yourself, he has several useful links throughout his article, and he has made his TouchOSC/Max MSP patch available for download as well.
Continue reading “Adding Remote Touch Control To The Kaoss Pad”
The Serpent Mother is certainly an appropriate name for this 168foot long snake fire art installation filled with enough goodies to impress anyone who is into flame effects. [The Flaming Lotus Girls] were allocated $60,000 in May of 2006 to bring this art project to Burning Man. A team of nearly 100 people worked together at a furious pace to pull it off. The collaboration of skill-sets is unfathomable between the metal art, firmware, software, LEDs, and propane design. The primary flames consist of 41 “poofers” along the spine of the serpent each one capable of delivering a 8′ tall flame. Tucked away near the tail is a egg that makes use of methanol and boric acid to create a massive green fireball. When the egg is open nobody is allowed with 150′ of the project. The brain that runs the beast is nothing more than a RS-485 network of humble ATmega8s. The microcontrollers are wired with XLR cable and chatting at a 19200 baud. Max/MSP is used on a laptop to control flame patterns. Here is a enjoyable write-up and video. We particularly enjoy the bit about the strange looks the team got when purchasing 50 stun guns.
Create Digital Music has a great post on [Luca De Rosso]’s OTTO. Built as part of his masters’ thesis, it’s a unique tangible music interface. You load a sample into the software which displays it on the instrument surface. The user can then manipulate the sample using various hardware inputs while watching the LED representation. The device uses just one Arduino for the display and inputs. It works with Max/MSP and is designed to give the performer only the information they truly need. You can find more pictures of the device on Flickr and a picture of the guts on CDM. Embedded below is the ‘Getting Started’ video that shows it in use.
Continue reading “OTTO, Beat Slicing Interface”