The QUADwrangle interactive sound sculpture project at Arts Centre Melbourne is all done and dusted (for now!)
Arts Centre Melbourne’s youth programmer Dan West arranged for this video to be made, which sum up the project’s aims and intentions pretty well.
During the second weekend session we battled a bit to get our awesome sculptural object to wired up to the two MaKeyMaKey Arduino boards. But once it was finally working, and in the Fairfax Theatre foyer space , it sprung to life and happily interacted with the general public for five days straight!
There were four stations where people could play the sculpture, each with a sound set that corresponded to the object’s design. The fence section played bass notes, the brick section played harmony, the tiles played melody, and the diamond wall section played rhythms.
Sound came out of four speakers than were set up in various places within the sculpture. Two up high, two down low. The bass sounds and big kick sounds all come out of the low positioned speakers, and more melodic and ‘toppy’ rhythmic sounds came out of the high positioned speakers.
Central to the sculpture making sound were two MaKeyMaKey boards that sent QWERTY key messages to Ableton Live 9. These MaKeyMaKey boards are triggered by making a connection between the boards earth, which were wired to copper plates on the sculpture, and to various other points that were wired up to black conductive paint.
Have a look at Flick, Ayten and Kelsey demoing it during the construction phase.
Each QWERTY key command was assigned to various ‘gestures’ within Ableton Live 9. I say gestures, because each key command triggered a number of different actions simultaneously such as triggering an audio or midi clip at the same time as triggering FX chains and movement between the four speakers.
One example of how this triggering of gestures worked is the letter “R” (see screen grab below). When the point on the sculpture triggered Capital R, this then triggered the key command gestures that were assigned in Live 9.
“R” was set up to trigger a simple melodic riff, but if held down for long enough also triggered a ‘resonation FX chain’ that would gradually fade in to make the whole object become awash with a harmonically rich reverb sound. This was accomplished by the triggering of “dummy clips” on the Output channels, which have no audio information, but instead hold automation data. These clips were set up Gate mode, so they would only play when held down.
These channels received audio from each of the four sound sources through their respective sends. In this way, at any time we could route any of the different sounds within the sculpture to any or all of the four speakers in any combination.
Below is the Fence Bass being routed to sends B & D, which in turn were being sent to outs 2 and 4, the speakers located near the ground.
We also had a series of field records that acted as an underscore for the sculpture, so that the object wasn’t silently sitting there when people were not interacting with it.
This underscore slowly moved around each of the four speakers through send level automation, once again created within a dummy clip.
This project was really super fun, and great to work with the wonderful staff at Arts Centre Melbourne, and the talented and creative young people who recorded the sounds, designed the sculpture and wired it all up to work!
Check out their various soundcloud and web links: