What if you could turn any conductive surface into an instrument? Like, say...a mug of water? Best of all, it's cheap; you'll only need $1 worth of extra electrical components (not including the Arduino).
For this project, my friend Harvest and I combined Disney's Touché touch-sensing system with Arduino, and then used ChucK to generate music based on the input. Rain falls gently in the background, and when the user approaches, they can trigger notes on a whole-note scale by touching the mug. Touching the water directly results in some lovely raindrop-inspired, high-pitched notes. Finally, touching the water while also touching a grounded surface will trigger a thunderclap!
Some thank-you's are in order:
- Disney's original Touché paper
- madshobye's Touche for Arduino Instructable
- madlabdk's github project, which implements a more human-readable, less efficient encoding for the data, which we used, because it made it easy to feed the data into ChucK
- The makers of ChucK, because it's an awesome programming language for synthesizing music (OK, I'm biased, it's from my school)
You will find this Instructable much easier to follow if you have a basic understanding of circuits. Additionally, if you want to edit the musical behavior, you'll have to use the ChucK language.
Common problems, things to watch out for, etc:
Make sure your laptop is properly grounded when you do this (e.g. plug it into a wall). Otherwise you'll get some weird readings. Additionally, you may have to alter some of the values in the springshowers.ck file in order for this to work for your personal setup. We used a plain ceramic mug.
A .zip download of all code is available at the next step, but here's the github repo if you want to download the code from there as well.
Check out my blog at bonnie-eisenman.tumblr.com to see what I'm up to.