An arpeggiator is a sequencer which takes a chord as an input and turns it into an arpeggio. The notes are played one by one and cycled through. SpiroSynth is a novel interface for musical performance that allows user to explore arpeggios with the assistance of Spirograph-inspired acrylic guides. SpiroSynth couples these looping melodies with the rhythmic movement of Spirographs, allowing users to explore different arpeggios and perform songs through a tangible interface.
SpiroSynth includes interchangeable gears which constrain users’ movements to cyclical repeating rhythms. Users place their fingers within the holes of the gears–the finger position determines pitch in their musical compositions. The device is designed to be used on a tablet, but a desktop version has been developed for users who do not have the tangible component.
The initial prototypes for SpiroSynth used microcontrollers to interpret sensed input and output sound to a speaker. Designing with hardware first made it very difficult to quickly explore possibility spaces of sounds and how different gears modified the range and patterns of pitches. Later prototypes used p5.js to read color data from images and output designed sound samples. Without needing to worry about the finicky nature of electrical components, I could more easily focus on the features of SpiroSynth and expanding its expressive range of sounds.