When we first started talking about our ideas for sequencers, I proposed something called the Social Sequencer. This sequencer would take data from a crowd (anything from movement, lights or colors) and provide a computer-based system that would take the data and output sound that correlated to the crowd. A DJ would be able to make decisions somewhat about the sound, but it would be largely based on what was going on in the crowd.
I like the idea of allowing people to control the output of the sound they are enjoying… however, I am not sure that people would feel all that in control of what they are hearing in this scenario, especially since there still would be a DJ or someone moderating the final outcome.
For my midterm, I created a simple sequencer on a large piece of masonite. I wanted it to be big because I wanted multiple people to be able to use it at once. I like the idea of people actively using a sequencer together to create music, but this flat board really should be redesigned to make it more accessible for many people to use at once.
So, out of these considerations comes my proposal for the final project. I’m calling it the Social Sequencer once again, but this time I think it really is a sequencer that people can use socially to produce the kind of music that they want to hear.
This sequencer will be a 6-sided cone. Each of the six sides will have individual controls (so six people can contribute at once), and the top will also have communal controls that anybody can change.
On top there will be a potentiometer that will control the speed of the sequence. There will also be a mode button for going forward, backwards and randomly, as well as playing only the first 4 notes of a sequence and the first note only of the sequence. Finally there are two instrument adjustment buttons. The first will select the side whose instrument you want to change, and the second will be used to cycle through instrument options.
Not pictured is a panic button (to turn off all MIDI notes).
LEDs going down the sides of the hexagon will indicate the current position in the sequence. This will be helpful especially when switching modes.
On each side of the hexagonal pyramid, there will be either magnets (that act as switches) or potentiometers to choose what notes play when. There will also be a switch on the side that allows 2 users to connect their faces and therefore create 16th notes and work together.
The magnet switches are simply magnets covered with copper foil. When another magnet with foil completes the connection between the two pieces of foil on the magnet attached to the board, the arduino will read the input as HIGH and will then play the note. Magnets work well because it is visually clear what is happening, and also since the board will be near vertical, the switches will stay in place.
I will be sending MIDI messages directly from the Arduino, making this device simple to hook up to any output that accepts MIDI.
This will require a ton of pins, so I will be using the Arduino Mega in conjunction with the MUX shield from Mayhew Labs.
The Mega has 70 pins (16 analog, 54 digital). The MUX (multiplexer) shield provides 48 pins, and uses 7. This will give me a total of 111 pins to use. My major requirements are:
- 40 for magnetic switches/buttons
- 17 for potentiometer controls
- 20 for LEDs