Project @ Playtronica
Sounding Slackling is an interactive installation and musical instrument composed of a slackline stretched between two trees and a hand-made tension meter made out of conductive yarn and connected to the slackline and an Arduino microcontroller. Arduino is in turn connected to Ableton via the Connection Kit.
The player of the instrument steps onto the slackline and thus changes its tension. This change is passed through the tension meter and Arduino to Ableton, which then reacts with different sounds, depending on the currently selected Ableton set. Players can thus play different sampled notes or parts of an instrument (like in a drum set), or play a theremin-like sound which they control by jumping and walking on the slackline.
I was initially approached by my fellow colleagues and friends at Playtronica with a task to design some kind of way to measure tension on a slackline and convert this measurement to sound. They have already implemented similar interaction by using pressure sensors which reacted to step, but now wanted something that would react to the actual movement of the player.
The idea to use conductive yarn came up instantly, and we went through several iterations of the prototype, beginning with a simple test on a aikidogi belt, continuing with the first test on a real slackline, and gradually changing the tension meter design in search for the best type of connection between the meter and the slackline itself.
The current iteration of the prototype consists of a stretchable ribbon which hosts attached to it a 1-meter long lace made out of conductive yarn. The ribbon also has pieces of regular stiff cotton fabric attached to both its ends so they can be tied behind a tree on one of the sides of the slackline. Arduino is connected to the two ends of the conductive yarn lace by wires. More about the setup and manufacturing process is available in an article in the Makery magazine.
So far Sounding Slackline was present at:
Sounding Slackline @ Pete the Monkey festival, July 2016
Sounding Slackline @ MTFBerlin, May 2016