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Samba Surdo

Posted May 9th by lucas in Audio, Computer Vision, Interactivity, Processing, Samba, openFrameworks

Samba Surdo is an interactive eight-channel sound installation that allows viewers to experience Brazilian samba. Visitors are invited to walk into the center of a room where eight speakers are positioned around them in the shape of a circle. Each speaker represents a different instrument played in a samba orchestra. As the visitor moves throughout the circle, his/her position is tracked by a set of sensors that determine which speaker should turn on. In this way, Samba Surdo gives the visitor the role held by the Master of Percussion in a samba orchestra; by moving and experiencing the installation, the visitor determines which instruments are played.

You can download the paper i wrote about it here:

I developed this installation as my thesis project at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. I started developing the project by creating a visualization software that would allow me to see the exact values that were being inputed into the system.I created a sketch that simulated the circle where the eight speakers will be positioned, and I developed an algorithm to constantly compare my mouse position—represented by a white rectangle—to all eight speakers. I was able to get incoming values, which I scaled between zero and one, since the application transforms OSC data into MIDI. I was able to get openFrameworks talking to OSCulator, and I consequently got OSCulator to send MIDI data into my audio application, Abelton Live. Once I had everything working, I tested the application with the actual sounds.

Zach Lieberman, Daniel Shiffman, and Kyle McDonald helped me greatly in developing the software for the installation. After developing the initial prototype in software, I implemented the computer vision algorithm. Instead of comparing the speaker’s distance to my mouse position, I compared it to the white pixels on the screen. I recorded an animation that simulated a white ball moving on the screen. This was essential, as it was similar to the view that my software would have once the computer vision technique was applied. I was able to modify and work with this video instead of working with real-time footage, which would have complicated my whole process. Once I set up the installation and got friends to test it, I realized that it needed adjustments that I had not realized were necessary in software. The transition between sounds needed to be much smoother, and the distance calculations needed to be tighter so that viewers could navigate the installation freely and naturally.

This is the first test at ITP:

After doing the practical tests and making sure that it would be possible to do proper camera tracking, i contacted my dear friend, Alexander Berscheid, and he agreed to install Samba Surdo in his gallery in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Walking into a white room must be like looking at a white canvas. I really did not know where to start, but as days went by i started to put the pieces together and build the installation as I had initially imagined it.

You can see the thesis presentation here:


2 comments to... “Samba Surdo”
Miriam Abramovay

Amei Lu parabéns pelo trabalho.


Irado broooooooo!!!
Saudades, abraço!


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