Interfacing Music with Light, A Musical Instrument Makes Performance Mysterious, Surprising

February 14, 2013 1:09pm
Source: Create Digital Music

One of my earliest memories is of the piano. We’ve become so accustomed to this contraption, that it’s easy to lose sight of the pleasure of touching the apparatus of the keys and hearing sound. So, perhaps the endless experimentation with sensors and interfaces – whether entirely practical or not – is a chance to rediscover the wonder of the connection of body to sound. For all we might talk about precision in expression or making clear the connection of gesture to noise for player or audience, there’s something kind of fun about the mystery of it.

I think about that as fingers and a rolling ball and the beam of a desk lamp cross an array of sensors. Interfaces are a way of making expression work, yes, but they’re also a means to breaking habits or making unexpected discoveries. (And we do “play” music, after all.)

Builder Kacper Ziemianin sends this work, built with Max/MSP and Arduino. (It’s becoming a hack-y week here, but why not?)


This is an interface that has 24 light sensitive resistors. It is built with Arduino and 3 multiplexers. In these examples it sends data to Max/MSP and controls sound, but can send data to any software (Processing, Reaktor, SuperCollider, Junxion etc) that talks to Arduino. So this is like having 24 light dependent faders, you can do whatever you like with the data. These are just two simple examples, but I’m going to make more patches in Max, possibilities are endless. I’m also going to try to raise money and turn it into a product, Let’s see how it goes. For now enjoy this little documentation.

More creations:

More Fun with Photoresistors!

Peter Nyboer shares his work, along with a little tutorial on how to work with these – a great starting point for beginners, as they’re one of the simplest components you can work with.

The instrument: “This is the Photosynthesizer. Each sensor provides gain to an individual sine tone. As I wave my hand over the sensors, obscuring light, the volume increases, mixing the tones to create a rich sound.”