Ambient Addition

I found out about this little guy via the NY Times’ “Year in Ideas 2006,” which has since slipped into the archives (damn you, TimesSelect!).

Noah’s invention “creates music from the noise all around you.”  The QuickTime demo at the site above probably doesn’t do it justice, but it’s pretty cool anyway.  I want one.  Unfortunately, no one is making them; it’s just a project at this point.  Still, check it out.

On Noah; “Engineer and musician Noah Vawter is best known for inventing Ambient Addition, the 1-bit groovebox, PSPKick and combyop synthesis. In each of these musical instruments, he combines math and design ideas to illuminate the situation around music, encouraging the democratic notions of freedom and cooperation. He is currently a Ph. D. candidate studying with the Computing Culture Research Group at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ”

On Ambient Addition; “Ambient Addition is a Walkman with binaural microphones. A tiny Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip analyzes the microphone’s sound and superimposes a layer of harmony and rhythm on top of the listener’s world. In the new context, some surprising behaviors take place. Listeners tend to play with objects around them, sing to themselves, and wander toward tempting sound sources. With Ambient Addition, I’m hoping to make people think twice about the sounds they initiate as well as loosen up some inhibitions.”