Music Disc (working title)

Submitted by Jenton on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 21:08

Group Members:

Sandra Yuen Helsley, Derek Kan, Jenton Lee


The Music Disc allows for collaborative creation of music using light and colour as an input. The intended audience would be a group of 2-4 friends who are having fun together and creating music, possibly as an addition or complement to a music jam. (One person could use it individually, but it would be more fun with friends!)

A large rotating “disc” containing five concentric circles, representing the lines on a musical staff (based on Western musical theory), is placed in the middle of the participants. Cameras or light sensors aligned in a specific orientation above or below the disc (like the arm of a record player) “read” lines or dots drawn onto the disc, translating them into electronic sound.

The disc is separated into four quadrants, allowing for a standard of four beats per measure. The speed at which the disc is turned will affect the tempo. Based on the location of the lines or dots on the musical staff, the corresponding note on the musical scale will be heard. The record-like implementation also affords vinyl-scratching behavior.

The drawn input can be anything (e.g., marker lines, coloured beads, or photographs?), however, for our prototype we intend on starting with dry erase markers, which can be changed easily by any of the participants.

Materials Needed

  • circular disc between 2’ and 4’ (possibly a glass plate?)

  • Motor (to spin the disc)

  • Dry Erase Markers - for drawing things onto the disc

  • Whiteboard surface (for drawing on)

  • Camera or light sensors (to cover 11 track lines)

Use Example

It’s Friday night, and Derek, Jenton, and Sandra are great friends who want to unwind by making some music! Yeah! Jenton is a fantastic guitar player and would like some accompaniment for his rockin’ good tunes. Derek and Sandra bring out their new creation: the Music Disc, and their handy dandy white board markers. While Jenton rocks out!, Derek and Sandra provide collaborative electronic accompaniment. Derek “plays” the percussion with a blue marker, while Sandra “plays” an electronic keyboard with a red marker. Together, they write and record some great hits and make a ton of money as an indie band.



Image 1 - This demonstrates a two note chord (F and A) - Blue color will output a piano instrument sound
Image 2 - This demonstrates a three note chord (F, A, C) - Blue color outputs a piano instrument sound
Image 3 - This demonstrates a three note arpeggio (B, G, and E) - Blue color outputs a piano instrument sound
Image 4 - This demonstrates a descending octave scale from E to E (with an extra D at the end)
Image 6 - This demonstrates a glissando that starts at C and ends at G - Red color is trumpet
Image 5 - This demonstrates a 3 note chord with 3 different instruments sounds (red is trumpet, blue is piano, green is violin)
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