LEDs and MIDIs: Check Out the STEAM-Inspired Music of Holograph

Lisa Martin

A typical day for Lisa includes: getting up to see the sunrise, bicycling, interning at Make:, reading and writing short stories, and listening to audiobooks and podcasts for hours while working on projects or chores.

77 Articles

By Lisa Martin

A typical day for Lisa includes: getting up to see the sunrise, bicycling, interning at Make:, reading and writing short stories, and listening to audiobooks and podcasts for hours while working on projects or chores.

77 Articles

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For the release of his latest EP, musician (and artist and tinkerer) Dario Marturano, who performs under the name Holograph, created a number of LED cubes that are triggered by Arduino as he plays his MIDI.

To create them, Marturano used plexiglass boxes from Ikea and added LED strip lighting. In a separate case, he took an Arduino and created the circuitry. He used an Arduino, some Mosfet for 12V (in the led cubes), and optotriac for 220V (for the big light bulb props). Using Ableton Live he wrote a MIDI sequence to synch to the music, assigning every note to one of the light up cubes. For example C is the first light, D the second light, and so on. The MIDI sequence is sent to Arduino which then triggers the lights.

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The cubes show up in the music video for his song “Pyrite” (check it out below). Dancers hold the cubes as they move through their choreography, but rather than relying on perfect timing the cubes light up as the music is played. The cubes also follow Marturano to his live shows where they are stacked to provide some additional, atmosphere-setting lighting.

Besides just being an interesting technical element to his performances, the LED cubes are meant to add a layer of meaning that cements a very STEAM-friendly message that he’s trying to promote. “It’s not only a musical project, but a union between different arts and sciences, where the sound meets design, electronics, and computer science. I think we can’t see the music like an independent art but it’s an instrument to connect together different arts and sciences to allow the artist to express himself completely.” In this way Marturano manages to join dance and Arduino, music and technology, nature and mathematics.

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“I call the song ‘Pyrite’ because I think music, like nature, is governed by mathematics. For example we can find the fractal in nature or a perfectly cubic mineral like pyrite… I used the cubes to recall this,” Marturano explains. In his video for “Emptiness” Marturano plays in a forest as lightbulbs hung from trees flash and strobe as he plays. You can check out more of his work on his site.

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