A Stringed Instrument from Dr. Seuss’s SciFi Nightmares

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Check out this oldy-but-an-awfully-goody called Resonant Chamber from Animusic. It’s a virtual stringed instrument that’s part Dr. Seuss contraption and part SciFi nightmare of a beautiful, articulated monster coming to get you. Wait, is that just me? In any event, according to the IG post where I saw it this weekend, the music was created for the virtual instrument after the virtual instrument was designed. The whole thing is amazing, delightful, and semi-surreal. It’s also hypnotic to watch, and I find myself isolating which notes I am hearing are matched to which movements I am seeing. Hopefully you think it’s cool, too.

Check It Out: A Stringed Instrument from Dr. Seuss’s SciFi Nightmares

11 Comments Add a comment

  1. looper

    In case you haven’t poked around the website, Animusic.com — there is a download page at http://animusic.com/downloads/ where you can still collect your own copy of this in QuickTime. You can also download a copy of one of my two favorites, “Starship Groove,” from their second video “album”. I have loved odd tempo signatures (11/4, 7/4, 10/4, …) since I was introduced to them by Holst and Rush, but often such music sounds composite — on “Gyro Drums” from Animusic, for instance, the 10/4 sounds like 4+4+2 repeating. “Starship Groove,” however, feels to me like an organic 7, not 4+3 or something. My absolute favorite is “Pipe Dream,” from the first album; it used to be available for download in a version from ATI (see bottom of page), but like much else on the website that info is out of date. They still have the two video albums for sale as DVDs, and a Blu-Ray of the second album plus “Pipe Dream” from the first, and also CDs of the music including a more recent album that was intended to be a stepping stone to Animusic 3; however, the creative team seems to have split up, and there was a Kickstarter fund several years back that never yielded any products, so I don’t know if a third video album will ever see the light of day.

    Other commenters — geoduck, I found the percussive arms on the steeply-inclined fretboard, in particular, to be enough like crab legs that they kicked me in the phobia for quite awhile before I got used to them. palkinho, apparently there was a hoax some years ago wherein “Pipe Dream” _was_ described as a real machine, built at a midwestern agricultural college using parts from farm machinery! And CudaBoy, I don’t think the animation would be as easy as all that — not that I’m an animator, though I am an amateur musician. The video has to show not only a response to the MIDI note, but also the pieces getting in position to make the sound and then following up with its reverberation. This has to be especially complex with, e.g., the rotary cymbal/bell widget in “Pipe Dream,” for which the repeated hits have to fall on a device that’s still recovering from the last hit — the cymbal, say, is in the middle of rocking when it’s struck and set in motion anew. Speaking artistically rather than technically, they say that emotionally the biggest part of either pain or pleasure is not the event itself, but the anticipation; one of the reasons “Pipe Dream” is my favorite is the “monorail” of moving xylophone bars, for which you can see the upcoming rhythm in the spacing of the bars. Where it breaks into the stuttered triplet-ish rhythm moments after you see the oddly-spaced bars (not quantized as multiples of 1/16 measure) coming up, well, the first time I saw that, my face about split from grinning so wide! Ditto the shift to staccato rhythm in “Fiber Bundles” after the light pulses suddenly break into short bits, or when the arc of dampers come up just before the key (and mood) change in “Acoustic Curves.” Of course, it also helps that I enjoy the music in its own right enough that I listen to the CD in the car, with no video. I really hope that someday Animusic 3 does surface, though I imagine that Kickstarter money is already long spent.

  2. CudaBoy

    Welcome to the 90’s Bry!!!! I can’t believe you missed this MIDI based music gimmick of 20 years ago! As a music and graphics dude on Mac’s since late 80’s you HAD to be aware of Performer and pre-ProTools apps from MOTU, Akai etc as well as your basic Avid or even Amiga off-line video editing software. It didn’t take long for the math/graphics guys to realize all those “event” dots on a MIDI screen grid were MADE to be sequenced with the 24 frames/sec of broadcast video. The music drove the video as opposed to normal music scores- – so designers could easily see on the time grid where each “hit” of music notes would be hence the easy animation matching quantized down to 16th notes of action – i.e. marbles dropping 16 times on one ‘beat’. As cool as this gimmick seems – you will all of a sudden get real tired of it after the effect where’s off – it may take a while but it will happen.

  3. JonGl

    This video (as are all of Animusic’s) is full of goodies to keep your eyes open for. Check the moon phases in the various windows, for instance.

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