Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/35)

Award winning choreographer Laura Kriefman's 'Star_Gazing' playlist is this week's POTW.

This week’s POTW is Star_Gazing by Laura Kriefman. It’s a crowd-sourced collection of songs about stars, space and the sky. I thought it would be an appropriate playlist for sitting outside after sundown, staring into space after a busy day in the heat of summer*.

Laura is an award winning choreographer, and founder of Hellion Trace, a Bristol-based company which specialises in ‘augmented dance’, bringing movement and technology together. A great example of their work was the Crane Dance in Bristol, where the group animated three cranes to music, captivating a live audience of 10,000 people – and a further 4 million online. Other creations have included a LED Dress that reacts to live sound, wearable controllers and a collection of street-installed constellations made of interactive lights that you have to step on to illuminate.

 

*If the weather isn’t behaving, please listen indoors – we don’t want you or your headphones to get wet!

A Worthwhile Detour

 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a couple of events at Lincoln’s Sonophilia Festival (the UK one, not the one in Nebraska). One of these events was the Weird Garden experimental music club, and a chap called Dave C was demonstrating Lissajous curves by generating four tones using a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino board, then plotting these on an oscilloscope, projected so we could all see it. I thought that this would interest my Dad – he’s been known to experiment with a Raspberry Pi – and sent him some photos of the set-up.

Well, this started a conversation and a half. It basically headed in the direction of ‘you should learn some Digital Signal Processing’, with me misunderstanding what that might entail, thinking that it would involve circuit board design and a very steep learning curve. There was a lot of talk at cross-purposes, but Dad eventually explained I would need to learn some new programming skills, in a language called Visual DSP. The boards are already designed, so I wouldn’t need to worry about that, and you can do DSP on your computer, anyway, because computers already have the physical tools needed to do DSP.

I said I would look into it, so that I could possibly learn to present my music in a visual form when playing live. Any programming skills I pick up along the way are a bonus, anyway.  So, I enrolled on a several of Coursera courses, to check out the content, and got stuck into one of these, which I will follow through and hopefully complete.  This course isn’t specifically a DSP course, it is Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps, but it seems to be pitched at about my level. It uses Java/Javascript (another language I haven’t used before) so any DSP I do when I get more advanced at programming might need to be via my computer, rather than an external board, unless there is a way round that… Actually, it looks like I can tell it to output the program in Python, the language that Raspberry Pi uses…. I have a lot to learn.

I’m still working my way through week 1 of the course, but the images above are all screenshots made from code that I put together* and then ran and interacted with to make art. I modified the code a little between each image captured.

Even if I get horribly stuck from here onward, I will have an app that I can use to make some unique album art!

*Disclaimer: my code also uses functions taken from a module coded by the course providers.