Pendula is a single and two-player network game based on intervals. The single player version is guessing game in which the player first hears and "sees" a target interval and tries to guess that interval by playing it back using the computer keyboard. Played musical intervals are visualized with a harmonogram, which is a plot that shows the relation between the two notes. In the two-player version, players compete against each other to find the target interval in a more challenging way: the last two notes they played are used to form the current interval, so a player should choose what note to trigger depending on what his opponent played.
The idea came when I was making my way out in the bookstore and I bumped over a book called Harmonograph, A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music. A Harmonograph is a mechanical device used to visualize harmony between frequencies. It used to be popular in the 19th century in London, when people used to organize parties to watch the amazing figures it could draw. The device consists of pendula (plural of pendulum), attached to a pen mounted on a piece of paper. As a single pendulum oscillates at a specific frequency, the pen would move back and forth along the direction of oscillation, say along the x-axis. Another pendulum oscillating in an orthogonal plane to the first would cause the pen to move along the orthogonal axis, the y-axis. So what you obtain is a superposition of both motions along the x and y axis, which is called a Lissajous curve. When I skimmed through the book, I was amazed at the shapes you could obtain using this device and its potential to visualize harmonies, so I thought of writing a networking application that would allow two persons to collaboratively take control over a harmonograph while simultaneously playing music. Later, this concept evolved into a game environment: the intent was to help players to become better at recognizing musical intervals while having fun and enjoying the beautiful shapes they would be generating.
The game starts with displaying the harmonogram of a random interval without showing its name. The player only gets to hear what this interval sounds like. He should then try to regenerate this target interval by playing notes on his computer keyboard, which lowest letter rows are mapped like in a piano keyboard (Z is C, S is C#, X is D, etc...). All intervals formed are relative to C, i.e. each note the player hits is used to form an interval with the note C, and that interval is compared with the target interval. The player has 15 seconds to guess the target interval, after the latter changes to a new one, with the beginning of a new round. At the end of every round, the target interval is played back irrespective of the game's outcome to remind the player of how it sounded like and help him memorizing it.
The player wins 5 points when he hits the target interval. The player loses a point every time he misses -so don't guess too much!