Code of Music || Musical Ping Pong

Today we learned more about melody in class, and had to create an interactive device that could teach melody.
Inpyo and I worked together to create “Musical Ping Pong” an interactive, educational exhibit for children.

In Class Notes [Drop-down Menu, below. Click titles to view content]

15 September 2014

Code of Music

Week 2



Lecture: Melody elements —notes, scales, intervals— and how their use evolved throughout history.

Code: Melodies and interactive sequencing in Processing.

Design exercise: ideation. Design two interface concepts for playing with melody. Consider form, materials, scale, affects, verbs, audiences, and context.




Spotify: Brief history algs

Music Theory Resource


Repetition is an important construct of Music. Music is based on memories.


“Because we spontaneously compare any new feature appearing in consciousness with the features already experienced, and from this comparison draw conclusions about coming features, we pass through the musical edifice as if its construction were present in its totality. The interaction of association, abstraction, memory, and prediction is the prerequisite for the formation of the web of relations that renders the conception of musical form possible.”

-György Ligeti


  • Guido D’Arezzo (inventor of staff notation): vowels—>pitches


Nuper rosarum lores (song used isorhythm, to create music for cathedral)

Composer: Guillaume Dufay


  • Fibonacci Sequence found in classical music

Musical Dice Games (that mozart played)


  • Schonberg Serialism
  • Boulez Total Serialism
  • The Illiac Suite Lejaren Hiller (1st known computer-aided composition), used Markov Chains
  • HPSCHD collaboration with John Cage


-“Formerly, when one worked alone, at a given point a decision was made, and one

went in one direction rather than another; whereas, in the case of working with another

person and with computer facilities, the need to work as though decisions were scarce—as

though you had to limit yourself to one idea—is no longer pressing. It’s a change

from the influences of scarcity or economy to the influences of abundance and—I’d be

willing to say—waste.” (John Cage on HPSCHD)



Amazing Electric Brain Geniac Electric Brain


Iannis Xenakis

With the aid of electronic computers the composer becomes a sort of pilot: he presses the buttons, introduces coordinates, and supervises the controls of a cosmic vessel sailing in the space of sound, across sonic constellations and galaxies that he could formerly glimpse only as a distant dream.- (Xenakis 1922-2001)

György Ligeti “Modern chorusmusic – Lux aeterna”

‘Somewhere underneath, very deeply, there’s a common place in our spirit where the beauty of mathematics and the beauty of music meet. But they don’t meet on the level of algorithm or making music by calculation. It’s much lower, much deeper – or much higher, you could say.’



Steve Reich “It’s Gonna Rain, Part 1(1965)


Brian Eno 1/1-2004

*sound of the foosball table with this song*

Scape app


Rainer Wehinger, created a listening visualization to accompany Ligeti’s “Artikulation”


Pentatonic Scale


  • What pitches you pick
  • How high they are
  • Pattern → modes & intervals

-Pitch (linear)

-Pitch Classes (set of all pitches, that are an octaves apart)

  • There are actually 12 steps in an octave. Semitones attribute for the 4 steps 12 steps (half steps)

-humans hear up to 20000 hz (hertz)

  • Interval is the distance between two notes, ie: 1st, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, etc


Monomyth: The Hero’s Journey

Mixolydian Scale


White Rabbit- Jefferson Airplane

James Bond Theme- John Barry Orchestra

Oceana-Pearl Jam

Flying Theme (from ET)-John Williams


Norwegian Wood-The Beatles

Sweet Home Alabama-Lynryd Skynyrd

Fleet Foxes-Oliver James


Ionian Scale


Three Ideas for Forms (ie: is it a video, a sculpture, diorama, website, etc)

for an interface playing with melody


•[One Line] Musical Ping-Pong, users volley musical sequences back-and-forth in order to learn about melodies through collaboration and exploration.


•Materials: Huge Arcade Buttons, Foam and wood (frame), colored LEDS

•Scale: Mega-Version, Exaggerated, huge, 3 meters tall (approx 10 feet)

•Affects: Educational, Playful, Durable,

•Verbs: Physical, Interactive, kinesthetic, Musical

•Audiences: Children

•Context/location: Children’s Museum, example Science World (in Vancouver, BC)










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