Joshua Maruska and Adam Kumpf from Teague Labs created an interesting Arduino-based musical instrument called Muze, which synthesizes evolving melodies. According to their site, they’ve “educated Muze with a palette of notes that it can in-turn interpret and compose into various rhythms and phrases that are strung together to form something musical.” The user is able to influence the strings of notes to make each composition unique. Other than the charming music itself (which you can hear in the video above), the thing that I like about Muze is how you interact with it. It’s played with one knob at a time, each of which varies a blend of functions in the music:
In the interest of keeping Muze from becoming another knob laden techno-fest of an instrument, we have limited the interaction to one input. The input takes the form an aperture into which the user places a color coded knob. There are 6-8 knobs (still a work in progress) and each colored knob represents a new way to nudge Muze into a deviation. No single knob controls a single function, but rather a blend of functions. In playing in a band, you might suggest to a fellow guitarist to pick-up the tempo during a jam, and he not only speeds up, but becomes more syncopated, or staccato, or loud. How a musician picks-up the pace is not just a function of mathematics, but style and mood. Muze, likewise, is free to interpret your suggestions to give back to the creative process.