Robotic Projects 59
Sculpturist and welding expert [Kolja Kugler] builds robots and robotic installations for years already. His pneumatic robotic band is a smashed together explosion of steam punk like mechanics and music instruments.
David Byrne also gets into mechanical sound creation with his “Playing The Building” installation. An old organ is equiped with electronics and pneumatics so that the organ-keys can be used to control motors, solenoids and pneumatic parts.
Josh also build the keys himself. Whoho!
The operational principle is that when stepper motors are back-driven, they induce a pseudo-sinusoidal alternating current. If this signal is amplified and connected to a speaker, you can listen to it as sound. The pitch of the sound is determined by the frequency of the wave, which depends on how fast the motor is back-driven. Higher speed will be a higher note. I thought this sound was interesting, so I wanted to make an instrument that used this mechanism to make music. This is an experimental instrument I built that uses back-driven stepper motors to synthesize sound.There are 49 stepper motors, one for each note in my four octave instrument. At rest, each motor floats above one of 49 disks, which increase in size exponentially as the notes ascend in pitch. The disks spin together, driven by a single speed-controlled DC motor. When a key is pressed, the corresponding stepper motor is engaged with the corresponding disk in the disk stack, and the disk back-drives the stepper motor.
Wooden Organ Built Around Stepper Motors to Create a Unique Synthesized Sound
German artists and craftsman build this amazing mechanical sequencer whoch has one (!) constantly running rotary unit as a actor.
Watch this 20 minute documentary (german only) about his amazing and friendly hardware hacker:
This university project led by Charles Matthews works on the connection of classic traditional serial composition – in this case gamelan music – and robotic Gamelan instruments. The actuators are driven electronically. Charles also developed a software called “Pipilan” which was written in Max/MSP. With this he controls the gamelan Gongs. From our understanding the software is an intelligent system which lets users interact with the robotic instruments by entering single set of notes. These are than merged into a constant gamela-music like flow.
The Augmented Gamelan project was set up to explore the combination of gamelan and electroacoustic music, with a focus on the way the instruments are traditionally played. The sound of this percussion ensemble from Indonesia is broken down, extended and warped through custom software and speakers placed amongst – and sometimes attached to – the instruments. The repertoire is based on traditional material and may be played in a wide range configurations to adapt to the space and context of performance. Many pieces also use traditional vocals including macapat (Javanese sung poetry).
The german based artists-group around Johannes Lohbihler build an interactive and fun-to-play set of robotic actuators which enables the spectator – thus actor – to play with every item that are laying around. As other projects it uses lego bricks and pieces to make the system universally convertable and playble.
The dada machines toolkit let’s you compose the sounds of the world around you into a unique sound creation. Whether you are a professional producer or curious noisemaker, you can use the modular dada system to use your environment to create.
Triggered by a remix contest from the band Radiohead, UK-based artist James Houston wired this retro orchestra in 2008 to create a mezmerizing and beautiful project and video work. It combines different retro computing devices such as:
- Sinclair ZX Spectrum – Guitars (rhythm & lead)
- Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer – Drums
- HP Scanjet 3c – Bass Guitar
- Hard Drive array – Vocals & FX
They play the song “nude” from radiohead in a very musical way. The video is heavily colorgraded to give it that retro look, which fits well to the overall idea.
Based on the lyric (and alternate title) “Big Ideas: Don’t get any” I grouped together a collection of old redundant hardware, and placed them in a situation where they’re trying their best to do something that they’re not exactly designed to do, and not quite getting there.
It doesn’t sound great, as it’s not supposed to.”
One of the more old-school robotic drum projects combines Arabic instruments with (in 2010) state of the art high-tec: Wireless controlled darbukas. It was set up for the international biennale in 2010 in Israel and realized by Artist Liat Segal.
18 Darbuka drums and 36 robotic arms are controlled via wireless communication. Drum music is composed and played at a music sequencer on an iPad.
The project was presented at the Bat-Yam international biennale of landscape urbanism, September 2010, as a part of the ‘Green to Blue’ ecological street project. During the biennale, electricity generated by wind turbines and photovoltaic cells was used to operate the robotic Darbuka drums. The drums were mounted on the wind turbines columns, creating a hybrid, digital-mechanic drumming circle, a futuristic-traditional acoustic space.
The Floppotron by polish hacker SlieNT is a hugh array of 64 floppy drives, 8 hard disks and two scanners.
It uses the controls as we have seen have it before but the project shines with its mass and build-quality. Also it implements volume control which gives it much more musical possibilities than similar hacks. Percussion-like sounds are realized with salvaged hard drives which are run against the casing to make the percussion “plopp”. Electronically, everything is realized with arduinos, which are wired as one big SPI-Chain to be finally controlled from a desktop computer.
German musicians Cico Beck und Nico Sierig created their band “Joasihno” around several percussion robots and a robotic 5-tone marimba. They started they career with the well known german noise rock band “Notwist” – their new project locks nicely hacked-together as well and refers to like Four Tet or Steve Reich. Have a look: