The main project I have been working on over the last year is Vortex of Sound. The goal is to use mathematics and traditional composition techniques to create an interesting headphone-based audio experience. Once complete, sound will spiral around a listener in various ways.
Basic Concept & Inspiration
Imagine a collection of hundreds or thousands of people playing instruments. All are playing one musical piece together. They are encircling you, forming a disk around you. What might that musical experience sound like?
Now, imagine that they aren’t just stationary, but are circling you while playing. How has your listening experience changed?
Some of the players now float above the heads of the others. You also float. You are now floating in the center of a cylinder-like shape. How has this changed your listening experience?
Now, what if the players could walk through you? The mass of players starts far away, passes through you, and ends far away in another direction. It keeps on rotating as it moves in space around you. What does it sound like now?
Truthfully, while I can envision what I want to happen, I have no clue what it will sound like. I hope that the end result is interesting and will take a pleasant musical experience and elevate it into an unforgettable one.
At the Immersive Music Hackathon in December 2018, I was introduced to the concept of an immersive audio experience. This project is part of my exploration of this concept!
I also took the motion of storms as a source of inspiration for this project.
I respect storms’ sheer power, and how they, as a force of nature, can drastically change the environment. While the shape and motion are modeled somewhat after hurricanes, this project is a homage to all storms, those of nature, those caused by social or political actions, or those brewing solely within the listener. May experiencing a storm force us to examine our environment and our ways, making us wiser, even if we weathered the storm by retreating.
To understand my process, you need to understand the project’s individual parts. These include
- A musical composition, Celebrating A Benevolent Storm
- A mathematical model of the initial starting point of each “speaker”
- A mathematical model of the motion of each “speaker”, detailing its motion through space during the duration of the composition
- Translating the composition from a Finale score into some format that allows for the different parts to be performed from multiple theoretical “speaker” incidences
- Matching up the individual “speaker” incidences with the correct music and location at a specific time
- Scaling the sound output so that dynamics occur and distance is simulated, but the listener is not overwhelmed
- Testing the results, and seeing which parameters make the best listening experience
One day, the code involved may be generalizable, and any piece could be played with it. Right now, the goal is to make a prototype, and perform Celebrating A Benevolent Storm with a special instrument.
Initially, I was just making notes in my note book, and neglecting to update. I was only planning on updating once a section was complete, and got intimidated. Therefore, here’s a change of plans!
The current plan is to be more transparent in my process. I will flesh out each of these bullets in future posts, keeping up a relatively steady moment describing what I have done and am doing. Some of these posts may be lengthy, but many may be notes describing what I have done and what isn’t quite yet finished.
Please note, not all posts in the blog will relate to the project introduced in this post. I will try to indicate which ones are relevant to the project by including the project name, Vortex of Sound, in the post title. I am also toying with the idea of updating this blog so that you can search by topic, and also making a projects section, but until these changes happen, please manually search for Vortex of Sound.