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Music that looks great on an oscilloscope! Audiovisual album + software.
Music that looks great on an oscilloscope! Audiovisual album + software.
374 backers pledged €13,297 to help bring this project to life.

About

Oscilloscope Music project video thumbnail
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€13,297

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[Watch the video in high resolution on YouTube]

UPDATE:

If we reach the stretch goal of 12500€, Hansi and I will make an anaglyph 3D (red/cyan) bonus track! Read more here.

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What does music look like?

If you plug an audio signal into an oscilloscope, you can see an exact representation of the same waves that reach your ear as sound waves. That's pretty much the closest possible correlation between image and sound.

Analog Cathode Ray Oscilloscope

Oscilloscopes are used to measure voltages. Audio signals are voltages before they reach the speakers, where they are converted into sound waves that travel through the air. But apart from the useful capability of measuring these voltages, oscilloscopes also look great. Particularly the old analog ones with cathode ray screens.

Scopes in action at bb15/Linz show with Hansi3D
Scopes in action at bb15/Linz show with Hansi3D

The beam of electrons draws a bright green dot. If two audio channels (i.e. a stereo signal) are used as input, it's possible to use one channel to move this dot up and down, and the other one to move it left and right, like on an Etch A Sketch board, just much faster. The brightness varies, depending on the speed of it's movement, making the image look smooth and kind of organic. I'm using a Tektronix D11 5103N, which has a particularly large and clear screen.

Audio Visual Music

But it's not that simple. What sounds good doesn't necessarily look good and great images mostly just make ear-deafening noises. People have drawn awesome images on oscilloscopes, but the corresponding sounds are often unpleasant (and in most cases not meant to be listened to). Maybe you already know how to draw mushrooms on an oscilloscope with sound.

The difference and also the biggest challenge of this project is to create a full audio visual experience, where sound and image are equally great and correlate perfectly.

When mixing music you usually have several tracks, on which you use effects like filters or reverbs. However if you want the music to create a stable image on the oscilloscope, you can't play two sounds at the same time, and even the slightest application of effects would lead to unwanted artifacts. Therefore the whole approach of making music is different here. All aspects from composition and arrangement to mixing have to be considered at once, and for both audio and video at the same time.

Here are some of my previous videos to give you an idea. Check out my YouTube channel for more!

inverted colors:

Btw as I got a lot of questions about my mushroom video I put together a little FAQ about how it works on my website: http://www.jerobeamfenderson.net/post/101351329308/how-it-works

The Album

In the past year I've been playing live shows across Europe and working on lots of new material. Also I've been collaborating with Hansi3D, who is currently working on an incredible piece of oscilloscope software (read more below). With the material that already exists in some form, plus all the ideas that are about to take shape, plus your support, I'm gonna make a full length audio visual album. It will also include a collaboration track with Adoxo, who produced two oscilloscope videoclips and live visuals for Clark (Warp records) last year.

For you hardcore fans there will be a 12" vinyl edition. For this one the tracks will be optimized, to get the best out of the music for pure listening enjoyment. Some tracks will also be remixed. Who's going to do the remixes is not entirely clear yet, but I can assure you they will be the bomb.

The Software

Hansi3D is working on a program called OsciStudio, which can convert 3D objects from blender (open source 3D software) into sound to display them again on an oscilloscope. The software can be played easily as a MIDI instrument and runs on Windows or Mac.

Apart from that I work a lot with Max MSP and Pure Data. I've sometimes put Pd patches online on my website and got enthusiastic responses from people who played around with them and made their own oscilloscope visuals. When the album is finished I'm going to put a lot more online. It will be mostly Max for Live patches, but also a few in Pure Data.

So what's gonna be the outcome?

  • the complete audio visual album will be available for streaming on YouTube (free)
  • the album + some specials will be available for download in premium video quality (due to some peculiarities of filming an analog oscilloscope screen, YouTube's quality / codec just can't compete). The download will also feature the WAV files of the tracks, so you can watch them on your own oscilloscope.
  • 12" Vinyl with audio-optimized tracks and remixes
  • audio-optimized tracks and remixes for download (free)
  • OsciStudio software to create 3D visuals on an oscilloscope. At the moment this is an experimental project and it's not entirely clear yet in what form the software is going to be released.
  • Max MSP and Pure Data patches (free)

And where does all the money go?

  • About 3800€ will be spent on Kickstarter fees, taxes and shipping of the goodies for you backers
  • About 2000€ will be spent on hard- and software for the production, most notably a proper camera that can film the oscilloscope screen at high resolution with 60 frames per second.
  • Vinyl mastering, pressing and cover print will cost approximately another 2600€
  • The rest will be split among everyone who's involved, considering each's amount of work.
  • In case we actually exceed the funding goal, part of it will again go into fees and taxes, and anything that's left then will help us to focus on this project and make it as awesome as possible :)

Risks and challenges

I'm hoping to finish the project until the end of this year. However to be save let's say it might actually take up to a year.
If you're familiar with either programming or music production, you probably know that quite often it's just a few details that seem small at first but then actually become real problems that take longer to solve than expected. There are also some parts that are out of my hands, like mastering and vinyl pressing, which might take some more time.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €10 or more About $11

    Get a video download of the album in supreme quality!

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    205 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge €33 or more About $37

    Get the 12" vinyl record + video download!
    (worldwide shipping included)

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    69 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge €33 or more About $37

    Get the Pure Data patches to draw amazing 3D landscapes with mushrooms and butterflies, right after the campaign's success!

    (note: the much larger independent software suite OsciStudio, which integrates with blender and takes MIDI input, among other things, is available at the 100€ pledge level)

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    11 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge €66 or more About $73

    Get the 12" vinyl record + video download

    AND

    the Pure Data patches to draw amazing 3D landscapes with mushrooms and butterflies, right after the campaign!

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    7 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge €100 or more About $111

    All the above + the current (beta stage) version of OsciStudio, a software by Hansi3D to make 3D visualizations on your oscilloscope (Windows & Mac)

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    50 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge €333 or more About $370

    Get a hand-soldered analog lissajous noise instrument!
    (Eurorack module or standalone box - read more about it in the 2nd Update)

    + vinyl and Osci Studio software

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    4 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge €666 or more About $740

    All the above + I'll play a personal live show for you at your event or in your living room, and I can show and tell you everything you want to know about it!
    Date to be agreed on, sometime in 2016. Travel costs need to be added. To be sure how much that is going to be, feel free to contact me first :)

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Funding period

- (30 days)