Tag Archives: Electronic instruments

The chromochord

chromochord

The chromochord is a bioelectronic musical instrument that is driven by protein expansion and contraction.

Linked to a laptop computer, the device holds 12 vials, each paired with a different sound. When light shines on one vial the proteins inside swell, changing the wavelength they absorb. A sensor measures the change in absorption and cues the sounds. As one set of proteins slowly expands, the chromochord emits the deep thrum of a bass; as another set quickly shrinks, out comes the sound of glass chimes.

The chromochord was developed by  Josiah Zayner, a biophysicist at the University of Chicago, and the composer Francisco Castillo Trigueros. “Scientists see beauty in a well-crafted experiment,” Zayner says. “The chromochord allows other kinds of people to experience that beauty.”

This according to “Biotech’s first musical instrument plays proteins like piano keys” by Nona Griffin and Daniel Grushkin (Scientific American 3 September 2013). Below, a sequence of related and unrelated images is accompanied by the chromochord.

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Filed under Curiosities, Instruments

Scrabble™ music

Scrabble™-to-MIDI is a computer-emulated two-dimensional board game that generates MIDI music as the game is played.

The plug-in translator and its configuration parameters comprise a composition. Improvisation consists of playing a unique game and of making ongoing adjustments to mapping parameters during play.

Statistical distributions of letters and words provide a basis for mapping structures from word lists to notes, chords, and phrases. While pseudo-random tile selection provides a stochastic aspect to the instrument, players use knowledge of vocabulary to impose structure on this sequence of pseudo-random selections, and a conductor uses mapping parameters to variegate this structure in up to 16 instrument voices.

This according to “Algorithmic musical improvisation from 2D board games” by Dale E. Parson, an essay included in ICMC 2010: Research, education, discovery (San Francisco: International Computer Music Association, 2010). Above, a demonstration of Scrabble™-to-MIDI.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Curiosities, Science