Master roll cutter used to produce Mastertouch piano roll masters, by Acme Machine Company, Newark, New Jersey, United States of America. MAAS Collection.

Spiral and the Mechanical Music Factory

Exhibition
1 March – 1 September 2019 Powerhouse Museum Book Tickets

Spiral by Dr Oliver Bown, MAAS Visiting Research Fellow 2018, in collaboration with the Tangents ensemble, is a musical composition and installation that explores the mechanical and performative nature of self-playing instruments. This project was inspired by the Museum’s collection of player pianos and piano roll production equipment from the Mastertouch Piano Roll Company

This work shows how artists are rethinking the experience of music through using contemporary music technologies. The work combines distributed physical and digital elements, synchronised via networks.

Spiral features:

A generative composition that selects the different keys and styles each of the instruments play at the beginning of each spiral cycle.

Self-playing instruments, like the player piano and drums played by robotic actuators, perform pre-recorded music.

Networked music triggers the chandelier of custom speakers to play guitar sounds driven by separate Raspberry Pi micro-computers.

Augmented reality allows the visitor to mix in additional audio-visual content using recordings of the Mastertouch piano roll making machines.

Machine learning is used to generate synthesiser melodies, derived from cello recordings, that play in augmented reality.

The project is supported by a Faculty Research Grant from the Faculty of Art and Design, University of New South Wales.

Collaborators:
Composition: Adrian Lim-Klumpes, Dr Oliver Bown and Tangents (Adrian Lim-Klumpes, piano; Oliver Bown, digital production; Peter Hollo, cello; Shoeb Ahmad, guitar; Evan Dorrian, drums).
Augmented reality system: Code on Canvas.
Digital audio and mechanical systems: Dr Angelo Fraietta, Interactive Media Lab, UNSW.
Generative system development support: Liam Bray, UNSW Interactive Media Lab.
Interactive Media Lab student support: Sarri Talhami (augmented reality programming), Alvin Zhong (augmented reality animation).

Supporters:
Ableton: financial support
Bitscope: Raspberry Pi computers
Musos Corner: drums, cymbal and bass amplifier

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