The Magnetosphere

2015-2016, ferrous metal, wood, acrylic, electronics, electromagnets

In addition to the robotic percussion and player toy piano, the “magnetic membranophones” in particular featured in “The Magnetosphere” are an underexplored area of musical instrument design and sound composition. They produce a range of rich acoustic timbres similar to horns, cellos, flutes, and percussion. Using software and electronics, the electromagnet that is held next to each membrane is carefully controlled with pulse width and frequency modulation. The musical score exploits the phenomena by manipulating the physical sonic character of each specific instrument including resonance, pitch, noise, dynamics, and reverberation. Unlike speaker-based electronic music (one-dimensional sounds), all of the warm and complex harmonics of these instruments are projected in every direction.

Below is a flow chart that briefly explains the sound process.

Magnetosphere Flow Chart
This project was supported in part by the Fusebox Time Arts Festival, New Music USA, and The ArtPrize 2016 Seed Grant.