Blair Neil’s – “Colour a Sound”


Built and programmed by Blair Neal as an art installation, ‘Color A Sound’ uses an overhead projector and a long roll of transparency to create a sort of manual jukebox that requires a user to essentially doodle the sheet music. The transparency then stores the colour coded music indefinitely.

Each colour creates a different sound. A set of colored markers are used to make lines, dots and even complex illustrations, and a camera pointed at the projected results converts the seemingly random drawings into music, playing back corresponding samples from an actual musicbox, or really any instrument including a Roland TR-808 drum machine.

The manual scrolling works in both directions and at almost any speed, and until you clean the transparency, any and all musical creations are stored indefinitely.

A demo/walkthrough of my installation entitled ‘Color a Sound’ which was set up at RPI’s West Hall Gallery 111 for the month of April 2010.

The interaction is meant to be very simple and playful, hence the major scale. It would be much more difficult for someone to walk up and have fun with a chromatic scale. Like any instrument, one would have to spend a lot of time to make a composition worth listening to and this is just a demo of the sonic abilities/responsiveness.

About Me:

I like music a lot. I play (in order of skill) guitar, drums, electronics, banjo, keyboard, glockenspiel, melodica, clarinet (just started), trumpet (currently learning) and sitar (too big to bring to school). I like giving each instrument a try, just because it allows me to hear them a little differently, and learn how hard it is to actually be good at them. I have a solo project that I make music under called Bend like Branches, and I am in a post rock band called On a Scale of 1 to 10 . I like using weird electronics and other small weird instruments. Custom instruments are also very cool. I am the head music director at WRPI, and I have a show called Ambient Signal.

I thought I would only work on musical/recording stuff while in school, but my interests have broadened a lot into the visual. Video shooting, editing and performance are all developing interests of mine, and I try to keep them as tied to music as possible. Making the two work together is very fun, but very challenging at the same time.

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