Music

Ra produces eerie music from spinning pyrite sun

Ra produces eerie music from s...
A custom laser scanner reads the pyrite sun's surface irregularities and the data is transformed into digital sounds
A custom laser scanner reads the pyrite sun's surface irregularities and the data is transformed into digital sounds
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A custom laser scanner reads the pyrite sun's surface irregularities and the data is transformed into digital sounds
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A custom laser scanner reads the pyrite sun's surface irregularities and the data is transformed into digital sounds
The sounds can be tweaked using the dials and knobs along Ra's control board
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The sounds can be tweaked using the dials and knobs along Ra's control board
The speed of the spin, the disc's direction, and the position of the laser custom laser pickup/reader can also be set by the user
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The speed of the spin, the disc's direction, and the position of the laser custom laser pickup/reader can also be set by the user
The control board runs down one edge of the triangular base
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The control board runs down one edge of the triangular base
The surface irregularities on the pyrite disc are transformed into synthesized sounds
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The surface irregularities on the pyrite disc are transformed into synthesized sounds
Ra uses a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Nano as its brains, and features a digital sound processor, stepper and servo motors, a 3 V mono sound system and a custom laser pickup/reader
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Ra uses a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Nano as its brains, and features a digital sound processor, stepper and servo motors, a 3 V mono sound system and a custom laser pickup/reader
Russian media artist, circuit bender and musician Dmitry Morozov
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Russian media artist, circuit bender and musician Dmitry Morozov
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When Dmitry Morozov was offered a pyrite disc in the US, it was given free of charge on condition that the Russian media artist, circuit bender and musician create something sonic with it. He came up with a combination of optical media reader and digital music instrument called Ra, which uses a laser to scan the uneven surface of the pyrite sun and produce synthesized sounds.

Pyrite is a pretty common mineral around the globe, its brassy color giving it more than a passing resemblance to gold. There are a good few forms and varieties, but the pyrite suns or pyrite dollars – roughly disc-shaped formations with striations bursting out from the center – are found only in Randolph County, Illinois.

Morozov was gifted one of these discs by a mineral seller in Boulder City on the condition that he created something with it. Inspired by articles on using lasers for the preservation of sounds from audio recording mediums of yesteryear, Morozov began working on his own laser scanner that would transform the surface irregularities on the pyrite disc into synthesized sounds. The project was further spurred on by a commission from the Sound Museum in St Petersburg, Russia, and led to the creation of Ra.

Ra uses a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Nano as its brains, and features a digital sound processor, stepper and servo motors, a 3 V mono sound system and a custom laser pickup/reader
Ra uses a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Nano as its brains, and features a digital sound processor, stepper and servo motors, a 3 V mono sound system and a custom laser pickup/reader

The mains-powered device uses a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Nano as its brains, and features a digital sound processor, stepper and servo motors, a 3 V mono sound system and a custom laser pickup/reader. A control board runs down one edge of the triangular base, with nine switches and 10 knobs for dialing in envelope filters and modulations, setting processor parameters and choosing from 16 DSP effects programs.

The speed of the spin, the disc's direction, and the position of the custom laser pickup/reader can also be set by the user. Morozov has included a built-in speaker that towers above one side of the control panel, but there's a line out jack too.

You can see and hear what sonic secrets the pyrite sun has to reveal in the video below.

Source: Dmitry Morozov

::vtol:: Ra

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3 comments
EdwardEvans
"Music"
dsiple
The "music" reminds me of the work done by Morton Subtonic, done in the late 60s using a moog synthesizer. This is a much less cumbersome instrument. But then, this is really just a "reader" of what nature created in the pyrite discs.
Lbrewer42
Interesting... but not limited to pyrite suns I think. A chocolate chip cookie would likely make similar melodies on the device... or a flattened orange peel, small pizza...