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February 9, 2016 AT 10:00 am

Geometry of Music Spirl Light Sculpture #ArtTuesday

Thanks to Jason Cooper for writing in to share his really awesome Arduino Mega project! Check out more info here.

It’s alive! Music enthusiasts may enjoy this. I initially had the idea for this light sculpture about ten years ago… finally got around to building it.

It’s a representation of the physics and geometry of music. If you were to equally tension 12 strings from the center point to each of the spiral intersect points on the outside, you could fret each string at the inner spiral intersections, and get an octave up (1/2 length), or two octaves up (1/4 length).

The logarithmic spiral depicts the ratios of the 12-note chromatic scale over three octaves. A fourth outer octave is included to round out the circle shape.

Our minds automatically process these geometric relationships between notes and octaves when we hear a tune. I wonder if our minds are continually running a “Simon Says” simulation like this when we hear music. It might explain how we’re able to quickly memorize melodies, anticipate coming notes and verses, and feel comfort and familiarity in phrases repeated an octave up or down.

The sculpture is 32 inches in diameter — all wood, with an acrylic frosted circle on the front to diffuse the light. One hundred and sixty two programmable APA102 LEDs were used in the spiral, with some additional LED rings in the center. The LEDs are driven by an Arduino Mega 2560, with a custom program I wrote to convert MIDI (music) data to the sculpture.

Read more.


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1 Comment

  1. I wonder if the lights could be replaced with buttons and used as an instrument. Might be very interesting to play…

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