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Musical Portrait

Spring 2015 IPP | Projects

  •     Initially, I planned on using the wireless MIDI technology provided to me by Fishman Transducers to elaborate my own musical performance with colorful images and illustrations, however, I realized that, when connecting these two arts (musical and visual), I should create a visual story. Eventually the idea evolved into creating a story that can be controlled by my note choice on the guitar because I took inspiration from the "create your own adventure" themes books that I read growing up. After brainstorming various plot lines that could be altered, I decided that the story should mean something to the viewers of my performance and that my performance should be interactive. I also decided that my performance should involve peoples' emotions because music is such a unique and emotional experience. 

        I first attempted my Musical Portrait idea by using my own emotions. In order to connect my emotions to music, I researched emotional questions and created a list of approximately 25 questions that elicit emotional responses from a person. After answering my own survey, I found images that represented each one of my answers to the questions and I imported all of the images to the Resolume Arena MIDI projection mapping software. Then, using my extensive knowledge of music, I MIDI-mapped each of my images to a musical note that would most commonly portray the emotion that is presented in the image. After MIDI-mapping the images, I tested my performance and I decided that I should have another individual answer my survey.

       For the next iteration of my Musical Portrait, I asked one of my peers to answer the survey and, after he had completed the survey, we found images together that properly represented each of his responses. Using data from my own presentation on the notes that correlated with each question of the survey, I mapped the student's images to notes in Arena. After testing the student's personal presentation, I decided that the images that evoked positive images should be in the background, while the darker and more negative emotional images should overlay on top of the positive images when a chord is played, in order to fully represent the full sound and emotional diversity of the chord.  

       For my final presentation, I decided to use Cole's Musical Portrait because of the emotion diversity that his answers and images had. In the final version of Cole's Musical Portrait, I adjusted the opacity of the positive emotionally images to 0.90 and I adjusted the opacity of the negative emotional images to less that 0.90 in order to blend the images together when a chord is played. For the final presentation, I will perform the song "Neon Suns", which and an originally composition on my debut album, And So It Begins, because the chorus of the song sounds very sad and dissonant, while the verse of the song is more uplifting and elicits a positive feeling to the audience. Because of the many emotions present in "Neon Suns", I believe that the song will fully demonstrate the capabilities of MIDI technology as well as the combination of visual and musical art.   

  •      The Musical Portrait translates a live performance of a musical composition into a visual narrative by mapping images from an emotional survey to a specific set of notes. Because music is a unique emotional experience for every individual, capturing another's reaction to music is quite difficult. To overcome this obstacle, Musical Portrait uses a deeper understanding of music and how different notes can affect the ear to create a universal system, based on questions designed to trigger emotions. Once an individual answers each of these questions and finds images to represent each of their answers, the images are then MIDI-mapped to the correlating guitar notes based on the perceived "mood" of each note. Finally, the participant's "portrait" is created live based on the choice of song, its tempo, interpretation and arrangement, creating a different outcome each time the portrait is shown.