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March 16, 2015 AT 12:00 pm

Make A Light-based Musical Instrument With Arduino #MusicMonday

Make an Illumiphone, a light based musical instrument, with Arduino and coffee cups. via instructables

Ever wanted to build your own electronic musical instrument? In this Instructable, I walk through the build process for my Illumaphone, a light-based, spatial musical instrument that I built for Jeff Snyder’s Computer Music class at Princeton. It consists of six coffee cups. Wave your hands over the air to trigger notes; light levels control volume and vibrato. Each cup represents a different note.

Prior knowledge:
This Instructable will assume that you are comfortable with the Arduino, and that you can handle installing and setting up a program called ChucK.

Materials:
• 6 photoresistors
• 1 Arduino Uno
• The usual wiring bits: alligator clips / wire / breadboards. I didn’t do any soldering because this was a temporary project.
• Some kind of box-like object to hide the wiring. I used the cardboard lid to a box of printer paper.
• 6 disposable coffee cups to act as light funnels
• 1 laptop to process data and do sound generation
Everything starts with six trusty photoresistors, one in the bottom of each cup. The Arduino Uno reads in data from the light sensors, and sends it to the laptop, which then uses ChucK (a musical programming language developed at Princeton) to synthesize notes as appropriate. The physical build is key to providing a good experience. Hiding wires makes people focus on the sound, and the cups act as awesome light funnels, so their shape does kind of matter.

Full tutorial


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