The McGill University Digital Orchestra is putting on their first performance on March 5th at 7:30 p.m. in Montreal’s Pollack Hall. The lovely and talented Xenia Pestova will be playing the Rulers, an instrument I invented. The piece she will be playing, which I haven’t heard yet, was composed by D. Andrew Stewart and is the first music to be written for the instrument. There will be a live webcast of the show. To watch it, launch the QuickTime application (free download) a few minutes before the start of the show, select “Open URL in New Player” from the File menu, and enter: rtsp://126.96.36.199/pollackhall.sdp
I’m excited to announce that, as I write this post, a musical instrument that I designed and built is being shown at WIRED magazine’s NextFest conference and trade show in Los Angeles. The first version of the Rulers came out of a physical interaction design workshop hosted by Stanford University’s CCRMA music technology program. Later I gave it a full version upgrade and it was purchased by the Digital Orchestra at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. Since the Digital Orchestra is at NextFest, so are the Rulers. Here’s the press release for the exhibition.
Last week the Rulers v1.0 were unveiled to composer D. Andrew Stewart who will be writing Rulers music, and musician Xenia Pestova who will be performing the instrument next spring. The meeting went very well—the artists found the interface visually and tactually inspiring, which would have been obvious by the way they played with it even if they had not told me so. I took some video of the encounter, posted below. Note that this was the very first time that the interface was hooked up to sound software, so the mapping and physical modeling synth were thrown together to get something working. In other words, the sound in the video doesn’t represent how the system will behave in the end. However I think it’s still pretty clear that the interface is highly responsive to instrumental gestures. I’ll be posting more as software, musical exercises, and eventually pieces are written for it.
Update: I’m having issues with the video… apparently Sony’s MPG isn’t being recognized by any video playback application I’ve tried yet except for the Finder preview. YouTube and Motionbox both don’t recognize them either. I hope I will solve the problem soon.
Converting analog voltages to computer data has been a central part of my life for four years now. Back in the dark ages, I used the Atomic Pro, a $1500 plastic white box. In 2005, my colleague Mark Marshall developed the AVR-HID. I have built upwards of five of them, and they work really well. But a few months back I tried using Arduino, and it quickly stole my heart: eight channels of 10-bit A/D on a PCB the size of a twoonie. More importantly, it comes with a free lightweight application for programming the microcontroller, which I prefer to using the Terminal. I moved the Rulers to the Arduino platform and will use it again for my Breakflute.