If you’ve used a desktop music application, you’ve probably discovered some type of hypnotic visualization feature that renders patterns and colors that are synchronized to your tunes. But how many of those visualizations create a 3D model viable for 3D printing? My bet is probably zero.
Blair Neal, a Brooklyn-based artist and creative technologist, developed an application, Sonic Sculptures, that can do just that and made it available for download on his website.
Released under a creative commons license, Neal warns that the software isn’t perfect yet, but it will work with most songs. He’s been working on this software since May 2013 as a study in how music occupies physical space and how it can be translated from intangible sounds to physical structures.
The software operates by using Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis on the song which is played and measuring the intensity of different frequency ranges, which is then presented as a color-coded band somewhere between the size of a bracelet and a coffee cup. Neal explains that “left is generally the bass/low end, right is high end. Red or orange marks are the loudest frequency band at that particular time. White to black shows the relative volume intensity of the particular time. You can adjust the number of frequency bands it is looking at and make it more coarse or fine.” Neal says that his next step is to find musicians with whom he can collaborate on making custom prints.
The textures and layers and different components of each song truly come alive in this application, so for the synaesthetic experience of a lifetime, be sure to watch the video below.
Neal notes that he is not the first to pioneer this arena. He credits the following people and projects:
- Frequency Domain (game)
- Robert Hodgin – Audio Generated Landscape (2008)
- Lukasz Karluk – Holodecks – 3D printed audio + augmented reality app (2013)
- Reify 3D printed sound sculptures (2015)
- 3D Sound jewelry
Interested in buying a 3D printed song? Check out Neal’s page on Thingiverse to see available prints.