Optophonic Lunaphone

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brianduffysm.jpg

Went to the MAC on Sunday night to see/hear the Optophonic Lunaphone, a project/performance by Brian Duffy - the man also behind the Modified Toy Orchestra and the ZX Spectrum Orchestra.

duffy-spectrum-orch.jpg

Brian had 8 or so 4-6" telescopes in the outdoor arena. Each had a light intensity to voltage convertor fitted, the idea being that a stars twinkle would produce a low frequency signal that could be fed into an analogue synthesiser (like my old Pro-One) to module a sound by frequency or amplitude. During the performance each telescope could be steered onto a different star in turn, or onto the moon, or the performers could manually obstruct the light to cause a variation.

Great in theory, but of course this being an English sumer there were few stars to be seen, and the moon was birght when up, but regularly obscured.

The start was delayed and delayed hoping for better weather, but in the end Brian wisely just went for it, and everybody was rooting for him. In the end I think the performance had next to no stellar input, lots of manually "twinkle", but Brian produced some really good white noise sculpted sounds that had everybody enthralled. The moon and the sky added to the atmosphere, if not the sounds. All in all a success, and well worth trying again.

1 Comments

Had an email correspondence with Brian about the gig and how it was done. Here's his comments. Thanks Brian.

hi david, thanks for the supportive email, had a look at your blog and there
is a misunderstanding of the technology, there are absolutly no synthesisers
involved, it is totaly light dependant. no light ,no sound .the control
panel allows me to sequence between the outputs of the telescope sensors
,the project was so complicated because of the difficulty in detecting such
low light sources(-5000th of a lumin), if i was simply useing light freq and
amplitude to trigger or modulate an analogue synth or occilator then the
project would have been very simple , but in my opinion somewhat pointless
as im am trying to tell the truth about something, ie the limits of human
sense data and what i am not tring to do is build a synthesiser with a
somewhat complicated interface , on a clear night there is a synesthetic
relationship between the audience and what is actually happening, this is
why i made the choice to cut the first third of the score in half , as i
felt because of the cloud this wasnt as transparent as it can be, the moon
was bright and behind the audience so i chose to move to the part of the
score that depended on the moon. what you heard really was the translation
of one kind of information into another and THEN modulated, the sky and
stars.... ABSOLUTLY NO OTHER SOUND SOURCE... the tones that you hear are
these sounds being cut up very fast. im afraid that no lunaphone could be
made using a telescope and a synth as this would be a light dependant
synthesizer which the lunaphone certainly is not.... and im pretty sure has
been done before in many psuedo theramins....hope this clarifys it a bit
...cheers brian

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This page contains a single entry by David published on August 29, 2004 11:43 PM.

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