Updated Noise Machine Idea

We have been trying to separate ideas in class lately, like sound source v. the sound itself.  I have been trying to decide what a “noise machine” really is and I think I have narrowed the definition a little bit.  I have decided that I really don’t want my noise machine to be something that might be better categorized as a “found sound” project.  I would rather synthesize sounds and modify sounds that already exist.  The idea I have been thinking through lately is making a small box – approximately a cubic foot.  The box would have an microphone and a speaker, both facing INSIDE the box.  They would be adequately protected so that objects could be placed inside the box and moved around (tilting, shaking, etc. the box).  The microphone would be connected to a program that would record the sounds created and then play them back with delay/effects/etc.  The speaker/audio output would be in the box so that it would be picked up by the microphone again, creating a compounding noise that builds upon itself.  The box could also be open and used to capture sounds from sources that do not fit in the box.  I have little experience in programming, so I am not sure what program would be best for this.  I have a USB microphone that I could plug directly into my computer…could I use this and Max MSP to create different effects that could be controlled by the user? Or is there a program that would be simpler/more effective/more user friendly?  Also is this project too similar to anything that already exists that I am unaware of?

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4 thoughts on “Updated Noise Machine Idea

  1. Hi Allyson,

    I’m curious why you chose a box as a form-factor. You mention tilting and shaking – might there be a form that naturally lends itself to these actions?

    As an ex-percussionist, maracas, rainsticks and egg shakers came to mind, but I’m sure there are more interesting possibilities.

    See affordance:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance

    If you do choose to stick with the box, it might be interesting to toy with people’s expectations regarding the sounds that boxes normally make. This connects to your interest in modifying the sounds with various effects. What if a tiny box has the acoustic properties of a cathedral?

    See this project which makes an ordinary garbage can sound like a deep pit:

    – Miles

  2. There are little mics/contact mics/speakers in artfab that you can use. If you want more control over parameters and have additional variables like from an accelerometer, you should use Max, but if you only want to process audio, you could route the audio through an audio effects unit in some digital audio workstation.

  3. Hi Allyson, I’m curious about the box form-factor as well. Actually there is a real history of interesting boxes in the arts — the thing that is popping into my mind at the moment is Robert Morris’ box with the sound of it’s own making, which is a very early example of the trend of visual artists working with sound. So a box could be very interesting. But do consider why you are drawn to it.

    Also, as you know, there are many different types of boxes – different sizes, styles, colors, as well as boxes made from different materials. For instance, we looked at this piece in class briefly, which uses an open-cube format: http://vimeo.com/46326678 I know you are thinking of a much smaller box, but keep in mind how the details of the form you choose will affect the types of interactions. Is it very heavy or particularly delicate? You may find it harder to get people to play with it in the desired manner.

    Along those lines, keep in mind: at least for this iteration, your box will likely be tethered to a computer. (Ultimately it could be stand-alone, using a Raspberry Pi running PureData, for instance.) But you will need to factor that into the interactions.

    With the speaker and microphone both facing inside, you will definitely be dealing with feedback. We are actually having a guest come soon to speak about this very topic, so this will be a good opportunity to explore your ideas even more. -Abby

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