Building electronic musical instruments


The BAI supports an active community of makers via courses in physical computing and musical instrument design. The Cogut Physical Media Lab is home to much of this research and development.

Information about hardware resources, including sensor interfaces, schematics, firmware, etc. is available here.



nDial: a new form of music play

The nDial is an instrument created by Peter Bussigel, with technical assistance by Butch Rovan. The ndial combines automated sampling and sequencing with manual controls to navigate sound worlds in unpredictable ways. The system selects samples at random from a live or prerecorded source and maps them to a hardware interface—an 8-step sequencer that goes around instead of along. The interface can match pulses, record live samples, reorganize patterns, add effects, and remix performances in real time. Recordings are explored out of order, and because control of the content is limited, preconceived strategies give way to the matters at hand.



The GLOBE: a gestural musical instrument

The GLOBE is gestural musical interface built by Butch Rovan. It is designed to be the next stage of musical instrument development following Rovan’s earlier work with a custom-designed data glove. (See Rovan’s COLLIDE for an example of the older data glove in action.)

With the GLOBE, the aim was to put all of the functionality of the glove controller—and several other features—inside a simple luminescent sphere. The instrument also needed to have a wireless interface. The project was a design challenge, because of the size constraints of the GLOBE’s dimensions. 
The GLOBE features a ZigBee wireless transmitter, FSR sensors, one 3-axis accelerometer, one infrared proximity sensor, and PWM-controlled internal LED lighting. Sensor data is conditioned and mapped in Max, ultimately providing a gestural interface to synthesis methods and real-time video control.

To see the GLOBE in performance, please see of the survival of images.



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