Commit 2d50221c authored by Erik Strand's avatar Erik Strand
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Add a music machines page

parent f2b5c1af
title: Music Making Machines
## Chimes
Since summer 2020 I've been helping out with the
[Pickup Music Project](
which has installed a few interactive musical sculptures around the Northeast. Currently we're
working on a permanent installation for the Cambridge Crossing development. Unfortunately it's been
delayed due to COVID, but as a silver lining this gives me extra time to play around with our
prototypes. Right now I have this machinery tucked next to my keyboards.
It's a set of 7 aluminum chimes, tuned to a G major scale. Each chime has a solenoid actuator that
can swing a lever arm to sound a note, a piezo sensor that can detect when the chime is vibrating
regardless of how it was struck, and a RGB LED ring tucked inside that casts a colorful glow below.
The real installation will use the same hardware, but will consist of 60 chimes.
The light system is pretty much ready to go. I use a
device to drive the LEDs. It connects via USB to a computer running a version of
The solenoid/piezo system needs some work. A dedicated electrical engineering team has developed
some control boards for the system (and I've produced early prototypes on CBA's pick and place
machine), but we've hit some production delays. Regardless, I'd like to consider some alternative
architectures for networking and control, to explore the limits of scalability and latency.
## 88 Key Digital Keyboard
A while ago a single key broke on one of my keyboards, and Yamaha just sent an entire replacement
key bed. It's got 88 weighted hammer action keys, remarkably realistic for a digital piano (though
still lacking most of the complex mechanism chain that constitutes a
[grand piano action](
It's been sitting in my closet for a while, but I'd like to put it to use controlling some homegrown
It includes electronics for detecting when keys are pressed, and with what velocity. Interestingly,
it appears to use some custom silicon! I found some documentation for the
chip on an Arduino forum. If this is correct, it pumps out note data in a simple binary format using
an SPI interface.
## Plans
A clear warm up exercise is connecting the keyboard to the chimes, probably using a MIDI connection
in between. Beyond that I'm interested in experimenting with alternative sound generating mechanisms
and alternative ways to hook up the various driver boards needed to hook up a 60+ actuator
instrument. For the former, one possibility I'm interested in is doing some computational design to
come up with chimes that can sound
[multiple frequencies](
depending on where you hit them. But that's probably a deeper software rabbit hole than I want to go
down for this class. The latter ties into the FPGA work I'm planning for Squidworks, so a more
likely path is building a Squidworks powered chimes instrument.
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