Valse Automatique

Performance @ MADE, Berlin, 9 and 10 December 2010. A project of Hermann August Weizenegger.

The concept behind this performance was to craft shapes from wax using an industrial robot, the shapes derived from the audio analysis of a violin player. My role was to provide this initial analysis. Having joined the team, I also had the opportunity to give some ideas for the lights, creating a lighting control system in the process. Rather than providing a comprehensive overview, this presentation is focussed on my own contributions to this project.

Listener Application

The “listener” was made in SuperCollider, and provides values for pitch (using 3 different algorithms) and 6 other parameters. Onsets along with the amplitude of the accompanying piano are also given, although these values were not used. The values are sent using Open Sound Control messages to the Java system which builds the shapes and feeds the live visuals.

Plotting the parameters
Although the following plots of the data were never intended to be part of the final result, they provided some initial visual feedback about the contours contained in the music. They were made in Processing derived Java.

Lighting Control
The venue is equipped with 225 ceiling lamps containing RGB LEDs, each of which can display a chosen colour. The lighting control system consisted of two parts: firstly, a way to “compose” a certain layout by editing the colours for individual lamps or larger groups.

In addition, an editor for the “reactive” lights was also made. This takes the analysis of the pitch and “flux” (how timbrally active the sound is) and creates a mixture from four colours. These were then sequentially displayed in the lights in waves, creating the impression of ripples of colour coming from the direction of the violinist.

Presets for both systems could be made and switched quickly during the performance.

These control systems were made in SuperCollider, which sends the values to the Java-based system, and then onto the e:cue Butler DMX lighting system via ethernet to a VVVV patch running on the venue’s PC.

Here are some pictures of the setup or performance found on the web.

picture of Valse Automatique robot from

At #MADE Berlin tonite: Valse Automatique on Twitpic

#Robot forming wax to the sound of a violin... truely amazing... on Twitpic

VA first Performance from freshprinceofbelrin's flickr

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