Random Orchestra

Drawing inspiration from nearly comical off-kilter sound systems and old-school automatic music machines, the random(Orchestra) makes for a rather spontaneous and theatrical performance.

This project was a result of a week-long introduction to programming using Processing, with themes around building sound. Starting with a root note of C and set in time to a networked beat, the machine generates and plays a melody composed of a randomised selection of notes from the pentatonic scale, in alternation with interludes of the chromatic scale.

It is built using a CFO (cheap, fat, and open) synthesizer, a piezo as a vibration sensor, an Arduino, and two solenoid actuators with random objects above them forming drum machines, all placed within custom wooden casing. Upon providing the system with an external auditory shock, like slamming the surface that the speaker is placed on, the piezo is activated. This prompts the Arduino code to communicate with the Processing program, triggering the machine to start playing notes three octaves higher, and turns on the two solenoids. Each solenoid collides with the object placed above it to create a percussive sound, and one is operational on every fourth beat.