Filament Synthesizer

Originally posted December 28th, 2014

This past semester I designed and constructed an instrument that modulates sine waves with the amplified sound of light bulb filaments. The instrument is in two parts: the first being the amplified light bulb interface which allows for control of amplitude and the frequency at which the filaments are vibrating (by way of dimmer switches), the second being an FM synthesis interface (originally conceived for two teensy 3.1 microcontrollers programmed to generate a series of four controllable inputs, sine waves, and outputs– this proved a problematic and unstable system as one of my audio shields intermittently failed) in Max MSP mapped to a MIDI controller. The sound of the light bulbs are routed individually to control four respective sine waves in Max. The MIDI controller allows for immediate control of the overall amplitude of the sine waves, individual amplitude of the sine waves, modulation depth (how much the sound of the filaments effect the sine waves), and base pitch of the sine waves (which are harmonically related, each offset an octave from the base pitch).