WITH IVAR FROUNBERG
SUBJECT: THE SYNAESTHETIC ALCHEMY OF THE EMOTION ORGAN
2ND OCTOBER 2006
Composer Ivar Frounberg is currently senior professor in composition at Norges Musikkhøgskole in Oslo, Norway.I approached Ivar to ask if he could brainstorm with me regarding the mapping system of The Emotion Organ.
I have previously spoken with him during several fellowship meetings and I had a hunch that his input would be very useful - I think my hunch was right.
First I showed him a rather incomplete diagram of the organ and its various enhancements/equipment:
I explained to him that:
As I have been working on the organ, several people have played it. Most of them have been musicians - but not all. I have been observing the different approaches of musicians and non-musicians of various ages, and it is obvious that there are several different expectations about what The Emotion Organ will eventually do, how it will do it and what the player does to make it do it!
A beautiful 5 month old baby called Ole was quite content exploring single notes and overjoyed by whatever happens. Musicians (and my 17 year old son) tend to pedal the footpumps vigorously and they play melodiously. Non-musicians go for the one-finger-at-a-time method, and pump cautiously. I like to play with one foot, then the other, and do not concentrate so much on making melodies and playing chords. I like to feel how small changes of air flow across the reeds sounds like.
In my search for a mapping system for the organ I started to work on the chakra idea as a kind of model. It makes sense to me because it is related to different areas of the body. I also read a paper about the impact of Scribin's compostions on the emotions of the listner that was suggested to me by Per Platou where I gleaned some more ideas.
From this I made a chart which I called The Synaesthetic Alchemy of the Emotion Organ.
I figured that if you lay the human body down on the keyboard (metaphorically speaking - I haven't done it) then various colours related to chakras could be mapped onto the 6 octaves, while the last top F key would be the top chakra - spirituality. These octave areas would form a background colour for projection when you play in the respective octave range. Individual notes could be mapped via their sound frequency onto colour, and could be shapes that were projected ontop of the background colour. Each octave would have its own aroma according to their association with that chakra. If you pedal on the right footpump, then the foreground shape would move to the left, and vice versa. To keep the foreground image in the centre you would have to pump equally with left and right. How fast you pump would be related to the speed of the spinning fan - that is also the projection surface. the velocity of notes would cause the lights on the "flower stands" to shine brightly or dully.The image below is an attempt to visualize these mappings:
The problem with this system is that it doesn't really take care of the emotions of the player, or the way they play the organ. This was the dilemma I posed to Ivar.
He introduced me to the Forte system , which describes sound quality - what something sounds like to someone - rather than quantative data or frequency mapping.It can also describe how they play - clusters of notes, or one finger, for example. If I could find a way to regisiter Forte names via max/msp, then I could put Forte values into groups - and use these to map other stuff - variations of correlations according to the groups.
I showed him the max/msp chordcatcher patch I've got from Peter Elsea, and it seemed that this could form the basis for finding out how to register Forte names as they are played. Once I have done this, then he suggested we meet to discuss how to take this further.
(We also talked a little about the ethics implementing sonar sensoric feedback
- where sound vibrations are physically perceptible, and can be quite uncomfortable
at some frequencies.)