Drawing sound in both directions

Graphic Music Sequencer - Caleb Coppock
Graphic Music Sequencer – Caleb Coppock

Algomantra recently posted on a project by Caleb Coppock, which allows the composition of music by directly drawing onto paper discs. Since the kind of graphite marks made by ordinary pencils conduct electricity it provides a system for drafting a visual score in sectored patterns on paper discs. The Graphic Music Sequencer uses wire brushes that contact a paper disc as it spins on a standard record player. When the wire sensors move across the conductive graphite a tone is generated, the pitch of the tone is further regulated by the thickness of the pencil line. It’s interesting that in nearly all musical scores, including those of experimental layout, there needs to be some system of decoding and mediation to translate mark into sound. In this case it would be fair to say that score is a direct isomorph of the music it makes, requiring no human mediation. Another example of a similar system could be claimed to be that of the experimental Russian ANS synthesizer mentioned on these pages a while back.

Reversing the information flow in the opposite direction we find André Gonçalves ongoing Untitled #06 project, which also utilises the turntable, this time with a servomotor attached to the needle cartridge. Sound captured from a microphone is processed, then digitised into data and used by the servo to move the cartridge accordingly. The cartridge, which has an Indian ink pen attached, draws the audio events in real-time. The resultant visualisations have semi uniform spirgraphic geometries, and as André says ‘the drawings can be seen as histograms of the audio activity of a space during a certain period of time. In his biography André describes himself as an ‘empathy programmer with googlian self-education’, something many of us with an autodidactic learning will identify with.

Finally, it would be interesting to hear what one of André’s Untitled #06 disc visualisations, if drawn in graphite, would sound like on Caleb’s Graphic Music Sequencer.

One Response to “Drawing sound in both directions”

  1. _blank writes:

    I’ve always been a little obsessed about the relationship between image and sound. When someone told me some time ago about the ANS syntheziser I was really amazing. I love this kind of weird machines!

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