I believe holographic musical instruments will be commonplace in the future, showing up everywhere from schools (for education), to homes (for fun), to media offices (for creativity), and in music studios (for production). The reason is simple: The holographic musical instrument takes a complex process and radically simplifies it: see another demo video here.
I'm using the term 'holographic music' to mean multidimensional musical structures mapped to 3d surfaces to be decoded through rotational motion. Just as optical holograms modulate light based on the 3D viewing angle, we can modulate sounds based on the relative 3D orientation of an object.
This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on a technology that I am calling the Dub Cadet: a holographic musical instrument. Part 1 will discuss theory and technical strategy, Part 2 will provide an arduino-based hardware solution, and Part 3 will explain the programming code that makes it work.
The hobby prototyping boards that I used in this project will rack up a bill of around $200. I invite you to visit my kickstarter page where I am offering DIY kits (with arduino source code) for $82. I have reduced the cost of this project significantly by building a custom circuit board that merges the microprocessor, gyroscope, midi decoder, and audio amplifier into one board :)
Step 1: The 3 Components of a Holographic Musical Instrument:
Musical content subdivides into rhythmic variation (pulse) and harmonic variation (pitch) over time (speed). Thus we can isolate 3 groups of variables called pitch, pulse, and speed. In my solution, I am using compiled arduino code running on a micro-controller to do the data processing. An analog or hardware solution may also be possible.
I want to keep the definition loose in order to promote exploration. So in essence we have a rotational input feeding into some kind of processing system, and an output of musical notes that can change to produce musical progressions. My system breaks down into 3 technology solutions aimed at varying the pitch, pulse, and speed from a very minimal stream of angular data:
-Rotational Triad Synthesis: Builds musical chords of different pitches.
-Triple-Axis Rhythm Modulation: Creates interlocking rhythm templates.
-Instantaneous Time Formatting: Allows the alteration of musical speed in real-time.
In order to see the expansive possibilities of generative holographic music, we need to take a look at the theory and application of these three solutions. Please understand, that some background knowledge is required to delve into these concepts, but no experience is actually needed to effectively operate the instrument. Like a guided missile, all the technology needed to hit a target runs silently inside.
Ideally, but optionally, a holographic musical instrument should also provide visual feedback (to offer a fully immersive experience). I have designed a stunning circular layout of RGB LED's that display the musical data as visual pulses of colored light. I will be talking more about this in the next instructable installment (Part 2).
I will re-iterate that this is a practical look into a working solution, a jumping off point into a whole world of exploration and development. Actual code examples and hardware solutions will be offered in parts 2 and 3!