Tim Murray-Browne and Tiff Chan: Impossible Alone

IMPOSSIBLE ALONE is an interactive installation where music, movement and video-games collide, created in collaboration with Tiff Chan from Central School of Speech and Drama. A vast soundscape awaits discovery, yet can only be accessed through synchronised movement between two people. In this presentation I will talk about the ideas that led up to the installation, how it’s been received and where we’re hoping to take it.

Tim Murray-Browne

Tom and Guy performing with Impossible alone

Sam Duffy: Augmented Saxophone

Thursday 03/11/2011

Sam Duffy is a saxophone player with audio engineering experience, currently undertaking research on the Media and Arts Technology PhD programme at Queen Mary University.

She has just finished a project with British Telecom and Aldeburgh Music examining the interactions which take place within instrumental music lessons and how these interactions change when lessons take place via video conferencing. She has been considering the conflict between electronically amplified acoustic instruments and controllers for some time, started by interest in an amplified saxophone called the Varitone, made by Selmer in 1967. The natural progression of these thoughts is to make the Varitone for the new millennium. It is a project which Sam has been mulling over for some time, and the MAT programme has provided insight into ‘the how’ through Arduino and MaxMSP, but the kind gift by a friend of an old soprano saxophone to destroy means that now the dream has to be translated into reality………

Meeting summary

Presentation slides (pdf)

Sam has a background in singing and playing saxophone in bands and small ensembles. An inspiration for her work has been to find out about the Varitone, a augmented saxophone released by Selmer in 1967 that did not quite match the success of the Wah Wah pedal.

Varitone Saxophone

Schematics of the Varitone are available online Beware, there is also a Gibson guitar six way tone control called a varitone, to be fair they got to the name first in 1959!

Sam looks at user experiences to inform the design of her Augmented Saxophone. She’s interested in making the most of the sound of keys, breath, small movements, as well as the normal pitch sound from the instrument.

Sam Duffy on the 3rd November 2011

She is looking at ways to integrate sensors in a soprano sax to see how she could capture a maximum of information. She’s open to collaboration, if interested you can write to her: sam (at) sduffy.fsworld.co.uk.

Arduino based Harmonic Clock project

Thursday 27/10/2011, Filip (Zambari)

Filip Tomaszewski aka Zambari is an audiovisual artist, working in the fields of live video, experimental electronic music, and creating workflows and tools for live and studio performers, including programming and custom hardware creations, including projects like EQ-AV (av show+software) AV-BRAIN (hardware), Harmonic Clock (hardware), TC24 (workflow), VJ loops on Archive.org and others

zambari (at) gmail dot com


The Harmonic Clock listens to incoming MIDI note commands and for the duration of the note lits up a line starting in the center and angled proportionally to its frequency ratio to the starting note (typically C but can be adjusted). That operation translates frequency intervals into angles – so one semitone equals to 30′, a fifth equals to 150′, a tritone equals to 90′ etc. This means that each chord is represented by a unique visual pattern on the face of the analyzer.

Harmonic clock hardware completed small.jpg
As a self-made electronic musician, I didn’t undergo a proper musical education, I know a thing or two but I would often feel that some insight into harmonic structure of a song could be useful, and not having too much spare time to spend on learning to play the classics, to build up muscle memory of intervals, I decided to try a workaround. 12-hour clock analogy came from observation that even though the mainstream music system / notation divides each octave on the keyboard into seven white notes and five black shar/flat notes for a reason, the actual math behind it calls for a simpler representation, after all the distances between each two semitones are equal on a logarithmic scale (or a bit off in some tunings but still following logarithmic order). In most wester music a 12 step division of an octave is used, after each cycle the frequency is doubled, two same notes played in different octaves will always sound good together, with most of their harmonic content overlapping, so in harmonic analysis the octave part can often be discarded.
I started with writing it as proof-of-concept software in Processing, and when I had the prototype working I realized that it would be great to build a hardware one, as hardware tends to always be around, in view, always available to be turned on, unilike software, for which you have to remember to run it, and sacrafice some screen estate and cpu/memory resources. I went to Brick Lane market the following sunday and sound a suitable metal chassis in form of an actual clock. I drilled holes for the LEDs in its face and soldered three 8-output serial-in parallel-out chips on the stripboard to serve as drivers for the LEDs. Other than a transoptor and a diode for the MIDI-in part that was the only electrical design part I had to make. The rest was just wiring all the LEDs into drilled holes (I went for two for each hour to make the line metaphore more clear). an Arduino board can be connected and disconnected easily (my stripboard serves as an Arduino shell). Software and design are open source and available at http://eq-av.com/hacl

Harmonic Clock can be used in realtime while plaing on the MIDI keyboard as a visual feedback mechanism or for reviewing recorded midi events, channel selection button on the side allows for indivitual MIDI channel selection.


Chris Jack: hydrophone recordings

On 20/10.2011, we had our first meeting wherre Chris Jack presented the results of a workshop on hydrophone recordings. Chris also demonstrated his project on brainwave music control (EEGs + Pure Data).

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