Archive for September, 2010

Bubble Harp 2.0 with sound!

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Bubble Harp 2.0 was released this week with extensive new features, most importantly sound. Bubble Harp now creates a generative, endlessly varying piece of music based on your drawing. You can also choose different scales and tempos from the new music menu, shown below. The complete list of upgrades includes:

  • Music!
  • Smoothly antialiased lines and points
  • App works properly with multitasking in iOS 4.0
  • Massive speedup of up to 100x or more due to graphics optimizations
  • High-resolution drawing on iPhone 4 retina display
  • Save and restore all parameters
  • Tested on full range of iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices

For those interested in the musical details, the music is created by “plucking” the string between successive points. The time that you take to draw a point determines the duration, which is scaled based on the tempo set in the interface. As the drawing gets complex, sometimes there is no longer a string between two successive points, in which case Bubble Harp plucks the longest adjacent string.

The sonic experience, like the visuals, draws inspiration from Brian Eno’s tape loop performances in the 1970s (see The Birth of Loop), in which an infinitely varying composition emerges from a set of rules and recordings of varying duration. The work also owes a debt to John Cage’s game-like musical experiments such as Music of Changes from the 1950s.

The sound samples are high-quality 16-bit samples of a Celtic Harp. The note chosen is based on the length of the line: the longer the line, the lower the note. The scale runs from G2 to G5. Changing the scale adjusts which notes from a western scale are included in the range.

Feel free to email with suggestions on new scales or tunings.