Shadow Synth

Perform music by shadow casting

Shadow Synth is a new musical instrument that generates music based on how much light is shined on its front panel. An array of photocells is installed on the front, and each represents a specific type of sound. The cells closer to the edge are the bases, while the ones around the center correspond to the melody.

However, the relationship between the light intensity and volume is inverse, meaning that the less light a photocell receives, the louder the sound is. This turns the interaction into shadow casting.

Playing Shadow Synth can also be a group experience. More hands enable more complex combinations of sound and rhythms. Performers can even do a finger dance or shadow puppet show while playing the instrument.

The goal of the project is to create an instrument that everyone, including those who are not familiar with music, can play. We achieve this by using pentatonic scales, in which all notes are in harmony with each other. As a result, no matter how random the input is, the output still sounds very soothing. The sounds are generated using Ableton Live, which processes the output of the two Arduino boards at the back of the Shadow Synth.