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Sound of Touch


Hayes Raffle
& David Merrill, with Roberto Aimi
Steel, wood, custom electronics, audio processing software running on a PC, and various materials

The Sound of Touch
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Sound Of Touch

Sound of Touch is a semi-acoustic instrument for real-time capture and sensitive physical stimulation of sound samples using digital convolution. A hand-held wand can be used to record sound and then playback the recording by brushing, scraping, striking or otherwise physically manipulating the wand against physical objects. During playback, the recorded sound is continuously filtered by the acoustic interaction of the wand and the material being touched.

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Freestanding Texture kits invite visitors to sculpt sound by exploring the visual, tactile and acoustic ranges of familiar materials. Their designs are inspired by Mondrian’s mid-career abstract paintings of blocks and lines, and in the texture kits, familiar materials are decontextualized as repurposeable media content.

While an acoustic instrument’s resonance is typically determined by the materials from which it is built, digital audio tools are usually divorced from the world of physical acoustics. With the Sound of Touch, resonant materials can be chosen during the performance itself, allowing performers to shape the acoustics of digital sounds by leveraging their intuitions for the acoustics of physical objects. The Sound of Touch permits real-time exploitation of the sonic properties of a physical environment, to achieve a rich and expressive control of digital sound that is not typically possible in electronic sound synthesis and control systems.