Noise Machine Update (Adam)

Since I’ve very comfortable and familiar with using Max, I’ve decided that I definitely want to incorporate Max into my project but I don’t want the project to be solely based around it being a Max patch. I want something real and acoustic to be interacting with the program.

My newest thought was to have some sort of percussive object (right now I have the bottom of an old sink in mind which has a nice resonating sound) and place a microphone directly in front of the object. When the object is struck and the computer detects a decent level of amplitude (hopefully to keep it working only at the right time), the sound will become distorted in some way as to enhance the pure acoustic tone. I’m not sure exactly what the enhancement will be though…since it is supposed to be a “noise machine”, I’m considering using some kind of controlled randomness to actually change the alteration of the sound each time so that it will generate a different sounding percussive sound (derived from the pure acoustic tone) each time it is struck.

My biggest questions would be 1. Does this proposal make sense in the context of being a “noise machine” and 2. In what way(s) should I alter the sound? Low pass filter? Ring modulator? Some other kind of filter?

Also, maybe I should consider doing this with more than one object and microphone…

My inspiration comes from Mark Applebaum’s Mousekateer which is a contraption of household items used as percussion instruments but that are also amplified and modified by a computer to extend the complexity of each timbre.


3 thoughts on “Noise Machine Update (Adam)

  1. Hey Adam,

    I really like your idea and I think you have a great resource at your disposal to make excellent sounds. While I think it qualifies as something that can make noise, I am not so sure if your instrument is actually a machine or not.

    As to how you should alter the sound, I think that largely depends on what you want. I love ring modulators and I think you can make some pretty sweet processing effects with just those and nothing else. If you wanted more fundamental from the sound of the sink, then you would obviously filter out upper frequencies. I’ve always liked toying with the upper frequencies as those fascinate me more than the lower ones.

    A question I have is how you want to account for the sound of the instrument itself prior to any processing? As in, when I hit the sink bottom, I am getting the wet and dry sound. Do you want that included as well?

  2. Hi Adam,

    I think you don’t need to worry about completing the prompt of a “noise machine” so exactly; I think if you make something interesting or engaging, that should be enough.

    Anyway, I am really interested in the idea of “the sound will become distorted in some way as to enhance the pure acoustic tone”; what I got from that statement (although I may have misinterpreted) is that you are taking sounds and converting them into something more “pure”. I like this idea of taking some noise – created in real time within an imperfect environment – and turning it into some idealized, fantasized form. I’m really interested in what “pure” means – what does it say about our expectations, our desires, our ideas of authenticity? I also see this project as a unique way of finding a sort of ‘essence’ of the objects you choose to make sounds with.

    Of course, this is just one direction you could go with the project. But whatever direction you choose, I don’t think you can just use any arbitrary filter. I think it is important to first define what motivates you to do this project, and afterwards it will be much easier to know how you will manipulate the sound. On a related note, understanding *why* you want to do this project can also help you decide on the actual objects you want to use.

    Keith Lafuente

  3. Hi Adam, A very interesting idea. I wonder about the extent to which you want to trigger different types of sounds and/or events depending either on changes in performance techniques, and/or on the passage of time? I suppose what I’m getting at, is that it seems to me like you want to create a found-sound instrument of sorts. Part Duchamp, part Applebaum. This is awesome. But, I think that it is *very* hard to create an instrument outside the context of a piece. Rather than trying to imagine how to process the sounds independent of any context, imagine the piece you are going to write for this instrument. Then you will know what it should sound like, and how to map the interactions to different sounds. -Abby

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