I've just publicly released the first available output from the Synesthesizer -- a side-project, executed in Flash, that translates pictures into music. The Synesthesizer is a Flash 10 musical synthesizer that relies on synesthesia-inspired translation metaphors. It is the first tangible product of Project Ludi, an internal skunkworks project at Almer/Blank, the goal of which is to translate any type of media into any other type of media.
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I'm only a few short months into what is a very long-term endeavor, and I've had precious few hours to spend on the project in that time, but I always set the benchmark definition of version 1.0 of the synesthesizer as 'a system that produces something approximating music', and even though I haven't invested nearly the amount of time as I'd like, I believe that the current Synesthesizer meets this definition. And thus, I feel I have Synesthesizer 1.0.
The Synesthesizer is a Flash 10 application that translates pictures into music in real-time. What I've included with this post is a rendering of the output of the application -- not the Synesthesizer itself. I'll let you judge the quality for yourself -- and please feel free to let me know what you think. Also, please remember that this is just three instruments restricted to one octave -- the version I will show in Amsterdam will have 8 octaves of over a dozen instruments.
Now, of course, there is far more to do here, but what I found most amazing about this process was how easy it was to get to a point of generating 'music' instead of 'sound'. In effect, I apply something along the order of six rules to get to this point. The addition of each rule to the Synesthesizer brings us closer to the generation of music, instead of raw sound.
To get a bit more insight into the Synesthesizer, you should check out my talk, Hearing Pictures, which I'll be presenting at FITC Amsterdam in February and at FITC Toronto in April.
In this talk, I describe the process I followed to get the Synesthesizer to this point. Using the 1943 Hermann Hesse novel, The Glass Bead Game (also published under the title Magister Ludi, the protagonist of the novel, from whom Project Ludi derives its name), as a starting point, and proceeding through a discussion of synesthesia, the aural illusions of Professor Diana Deutsch, the Experiments in Musical Intelligence by Professor David Cope, the music of Tamarin Monkeys, and many other stepping points, I walk through the thought process required to assume an odd endeavor such as the cross-modal translation of pictures into music.
Share and enjoy!