Other Whims and Investigations

Sonifying Unemployment in Europe Using Wavelet Analysis (2018) is an IPython notebook I created that does pretty much exactly what it sounds like it does. I know the topic might sound rather dull to the uninitiated, but there's a drama to unemployment numbers: they represent human suffering on a large scale. Wavelet analysis is similar to the process of creating spectrograms using Fourier Analysis, except it does a better job with the trade-off between time and frequency resolution. If none of this makes any sense at all, feel free to simply scroll through the pretty pictures and then listen at the bottom to what the recent recession sounds like when interpreted musically.

Harmonic Field Synthesis (2015-) is an idea I had to take thousands of tiny particles – of twelve different colors, representing the twelve pitch-classes – and to mold them like sand into areas of greater and lesser density. The result is a 2-dimensional harmonic field with pitch classes congregating in different harmonic areas. Sound intriguing at all? For now, all there is only a short and tantalizing video:

Chorale Interpolator (2014) is what you get when you microtonally interpolate between the notes of a Bach chorale. Give it a try – it's interactive!

Agnostic's Manifesto (2013) doesn't have anything to do with music. It's just a graphical representation of my beliefs about the nature of existence. Why is it here? Well, why are any of us here?

A Day Diffracted (2011) is a three-panel visual score in watercolors. It proceeds from left to right with the shapes and colors intended to be evocative of musical sounds and structured like a composition. The first interpretation / realization of the score was made by my good friend David Kanaga. Later, I made a realization of the piece myself by creating several laptop instruments to use in an improvisatory performance with several friends.

Humidity and Ich Spreche Aber Deutsch (2011) are two silly jam sessions that I recorded with David Kanaga. In the first, I am on vocals and violin, with David on melodica and bells. For the second, I am just doing some crazy vocals, while David is playing with samples in Ableton. Both feature some background and live electronics that I programmed in ChucK.

The "Tüb" (2010) was an instrument that I co-created with Björn Erlach and Michael Wilson for our "HCI Theory and Practice" class at Stanford in Fall 2010. The goal of the instrument was to sonify water waves in a tub. Thus, it combined the fun of bathtime with the experience of making music:

We accomplished the sonification process as follows: circular scans were taken of the images coming from the webcam, and the brightness values of the pixels were mapped onto a wave table, creating the shimmering sound that you hear. Since waves on the surface of the water created shadows on the tub, the sonic result was truly a sonification of the waves made in the water.

We also wanted to include in some way a collection of colorful plastic tubes that we found in the MAX-lab at CCRMA (where we built the instrument), which looked fun and playful and had nice acoustic properties. Ultimately, we incorporated them by triggering pre-sampled sounds of these tubes being struck, with the density and volume of the sample playback being determined by the turbulence in the tub at a given time. They also served a second purpose as tools with which to interact with the water.

The paper that we wrote, explaining the whole process in greater depth, can be found here.