Music 256A Final Project: Starving Artist

by Joss Saltzman

An Interactive Synesthetic Generative Music Experience...

This project is a meditation on both the experience of being an artist of any discipline, as well as relationships between color and sound. One of the wonderful affordances of using Chunity (ChucK + Unity) is that we can actually create consistent audiovisual mappings of RGB values to audio parameters, that can be realized in real-time.

The player is a simple circular representation of the artist, guided by creative instinct alone (practically speaking, guided by the mouse). One is free to explore a world populated by ideas represented by circles of various colors.

The player makes a continuous sound - a chord of 4 notes. The "catch" is that the player's sound is constantly dying away as they "starve," and in order to stay alive, the player must consume different ideas.

But consuming these ideas changes the player, visually and sonically. Based on the size of the player and the size of the idea encountered - its relative import - the player's color moves to some extent towards the color of the idea just encountered. The player's sound changes based on this color change as well, according to an intuitive mapping I developed: becoming more red increases tremolo depth and frequency and also pushes the harmonic complex upwards; becoming more green increases timbral density (progressively ramping up different instruments) and brings the tones of the harmonic complex towards its middle; becoming more blue creates a "muted" effect by lowering the cutoff frequency of a low-pass filter, and brings the harmonic complex downwards. As the player gains understanding of the mapping, they can take more intentional control of the evolution of the sound.

The hope is that this experience gives the player a chance to observe intersections between sound, color, and feeling, and additionally, in some way, live the life of a starving artist.

Download Asset Package for Starving Artist