October 21, 2012

Outside the Usual

While I like to say I dedicate almost every waking moment to furthering my personal goals of making my next game and related I do occasionally do other things. Considering this blog is equally about me and what I do I thought today would be a good time to ignore the 10 other posts I have in draft and let you know what I've been up to on a personal level for the last few days.

There's an interesting instrument, only 2 of its kind in the world, one is in a museum and the other one is in a band not horrifically far from me. This instrument works by emitting an electromagnetic field that produces a solid sound which can then be modified based on what's in the EMF. So essentially you wave your hands in the air and it makes music. I thought it was very clever despite how old it is, predating even the earliest synths it's from back in the 20's or something like that. It took some effort but I managed to find out exactly how it was made and how it works because, you guessed it, I was arrogant enough to think I could make a better one. So I made some modifications and updates to the idea then built a brand new one with a much larger field then put it on its side. I then borrowed a friends copy of dance central and went crazy. The music of dance is something uniquely interesting, and the best part is some of the best music wasn't choreographed at all but rather the stuff most people do at a rave. I did some jumping and some hand waving some head bobbing you know the drill. Now I have to find a way to attach some real speakers, a slight redesign oversight, and an output to computer.

Which got me thinking. Why not implement it through computer? Imagine what I could do and how the field could be modified or interpreted so many mods and plugins for a uniquely new kind of program. Perhaps even removing the instrument and implementing a camera interface with some kind of depth perception? Imagine making dubstep by dancing, it would be so perfect? For clarification right now it kind of sounds like a half way between classical and early synth. I put in a delay knob and a BPM and an optional repeat, which can kinda make things a little trippy if you slow it down or absolutely hyper if you turn it up. It's not a terribly complex device, and the real time consuming part was just those 3 features. Essentially it's designed to recognize changes in EM field which means because no two people have the same EM field which we do all output then no two people can play the same song either and have it sound the same. Added to this is that it is also designed then to output a constant stream and or tone so BPM doesn't exist, and it's hard to create a delay for something designed to react immediately. The repeat was also a serious pain. In the end though just these three things completely change how you can use the device. BPM though for the record while it comes in heavily for repeat does also alter regular play which is to say if your bpm is set low swiping your hand through the air might sound like a harp or cello if it's set high it'll be more of a quick violin. If it were altered to something more like drums it'd be more obvious. There are some default alterations for tone and pitch shift but I haven't really figured a way to make that part dynamic yet.

The plus side to all this is I might revolutionize a field I'm not even really interested in because I got bored on a weekend. Imagine if that's how some of the greatest things ever invented happened that way...  Can't think of anything specific but seriously consider it anyway.


  1. I'm assuming this instrument is related to the theremin

  2. interesting instrument?? ahhhh for me nothing lol

  3. If you get it working make sure you post a video of it in action!