All posts by: ellecortese@gmail.com

I met Ray Kurzweil at the Grammys

Ray Kurzweil attended the Grammys this year (2015) to receive the Technical Grammy Award (for innovation in music technology). I was there. I picked his brain for as long as he would allow me. Here is a photo of me, standing beside one of my heros, exploding with joy.

Digitizing Facial Movement During Singing

1 Digitizing Facial Movement During Singing : Original Concept A machine that uses flex sensors to detect movement and change in facial muscles/mechanics during phonation, specifically singing. Sensors can then be reverse engineered for output. Why? Because fascination with the physics of sound, the origin of the phonetic alphabet (Phoenician/Greek war tool later adapted by the Romans), and the mechanics of the voice (much facial movement/recognition research at the moment leans in the direction of expression rather than sound generation). Found two exceptional pieces on not just the muscles of the face but the muscular and structural mechanics of speech AND two solid journal articles about digitizing facial tracking. After reading the better part of The Mechanics of the Human Voice, and being inspired by the Physiology of Phonation chapter,  we decided to develop a system of sensors to log the muscle position and contraction of singers during different pitches […]

Building My First Synthlophone

Digitized xylophone trial run. Keys are made from blue plexi glass, laser cut to open/close with velcro strips and have their wiring discretely flow out of the bottom. Keys sit on metal rods, separated by O-rings, mallets are soft vibraphone mallets. Analog readings are pulled from MEAS flexi-piezos, fed into a Arduino Mega programed as a MIDI out, into a Nord Modular Micro.

Audio Software Mirror Redux

The audio software mirror has evolved yet again, becoming a … The Conversation Cloud Generator is a wearable device that generates on-screen word clouds by listening to conversation and surveying syntax and volume. The interface is concealed within wrappings of wireform mesh (a thinner, more pliable version of the material that covers standard microphones) and sewn to a waist belt. The innocuous wearable contains two microphones and an Arduino. On microphone takes volume readings via the Arduino while the second sends four second audio clips (wav files) directly to the computer. Via Processing, the audio data is sent to Google Speech and the returned result is saved as text to a data file, accompanied by its corresponding volume readings (by four second delay). As the user’s leisure, the word cloud is generated via mouse click. Word size is determined by merging the volume values with the frequency of word use […]

Multi-Serial PhotoCell Theremin

Started with the old Theremin #2, used a photocell instead of the rangefinder, added a second photocell and tweaked the pitch shift button to jump octaves (e.g. a D# is still a D# when button is pressed). One photocell controls the note (takes five readings with an array and maps it between 100 & 500 if pitch button is pressed and 50 & 250 if else); the second photocell controls the duration of the note by dividing the reading by 20; and the switch, as previously mentioned, controls the octave jump. In Processing, the the note, duration and switch are collected as serial data and used to oscillate the colours on the sketch’s grid. The note controls the opacity, duration affects the movement and the button does two things: controls the green value in the fill() AND affects the note reading (opacity) via pitch shifting. Arduino code: int analogCell1 = […]

Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Imagine the Sims or Rollercoaster Tycoon. Except without the sims themselves or the houses  or the coasters or anything but landscape. You’re staring at a landscape and you can manipulate how it will develop, but you’re not moving trees or placing coaster tracks from a mouse or menu, you’re playing a melody that will dictate the fate of that environment. With a MIDI controller you can choose to play consonant melodies or chords to grow trees and bring life to the landscape or play with dissonance to burn it all down. There is no objective, no end, no story, there is no right or wrong; you can can build a forest and burn it down and never lose a point. We’re hoping to assemble this via a DIY wooden MIDI controller with cooper plate keys/switches, an Arduino, Unity 3D and a projector. Because, and Alfred said it best, some men […]