MATRIXSYNTH: The Blue Marble Synthesizer Project Plans to Put a Music Synthesizer Controller in Space

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

The Blue Marble Synthesizer Project Plans to Put a Music Synthesizer Controller in Space

video upload by Physical Synthesis

Blue Marble Synthesizer Project: Andrew Huang

Physical Synthesis, the makers of Cicada, wrote in to let us know of a new project soon to be seeking funding on Kickstarter.

I asked them what the platform would be based on. They replied:

"The web-based interface will be an adapted version of Patatap to which we’ll add a video feed and other interactions that will be possible to trigger inside the space capsule (i,e agitate the marble by turning on a fan, LED array, microphone, speaker, etc).

The space capsule has a set of different elements that allows to change the position of the physical marble floating inside the zero-gravity chamber (a set of sensors that calculates the position, a fan that agitates the position of the marble, a microphone that records those interactions, etc). All that data is then being sent back to us on earth (or in reverse sent to the capsule from earth using the Live mode). In other words, the web-interface receives data/interactions from the capsule and the Live mode allows to send data/interactions directly to the capsule. Lastly we’re building a VST plug-in allowing to receive MIDI and hook up data directly into your DAW or other synth."

In short the interactive hardware controller w/ microphone to capture audio is in space, while the synth engine and processing is done on earth.

Addtional details from the Kickstarter/Press Release follows.

The Blue Marble Synthesizer is the first-ever music synthesizer that can only work in space and that is playable from here on earth. It’s a synthesizer for making music and experimenting with sound. The system consists of a pressurized capsule in a low earth orbit satellite, a network of sensors, and a web-based interface for people to play with here on earth.

1. The Blue Marble Synthesizer Capsule consists of a pressurized CubeSat module configured with a control computer, camera, sensor array, fan, LED array, a microphone, and a speaker. It measures the behavior of a marble floating in a zero gravity synth capsule and sends sensor data, audio feed, and video feed back to us on earth.

2. The Web-Based Interface is an interactive and self-contained web audio synthesizer designed for everyone. Through a collaboration with the creator of Patatap, this application blends interactions from the Blue marble Synthesizer Capsule data with a traditional interactive music synthesizer. This web-based interface is a way to explore the interactions between the Blue Marble Synthesizer Capsule and people’s own musical creativity.

● When does the space mission start?
The Kickstarter campaign is set to start on Wednesday, October 4 for 30 days until the rocket launch which is set for Wednesday November 1 aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket. Once in orbit, the Blue Marble Synthesizer Space Capsule will be rotating around earth every 90 minutes.

● Why does this project matter?
The Blue Marble Synth Project is intended for all those who share a passion for space, music, and the intersection of science and art. Music has always been a universal language that transcends cultural barriers, connecting people on a deeply emotional level. By introducing a music synthesizer to space, we expand the horizons of artistic expression and create a new dimension for human creative endeavors off-planet.

● What is the experience like for supporters?

1. Two primary ways: people will have the chance to make music with the audio and the data captured by the Blue Marble Synthesizer in two primary ways: through an interactive web-interface or via a VST-plug-in. Some supporters may also have the chance to play and interact with the system directly in space.

2. The Blue Marble Web-Interface: is a self-contained web based application that works from here on Earth. Inspired by Patatap, this application blends interactions from the Blue Marble Synth Capsule Data with a traditional interactive music synthesizer.

3. The Blue Marble VST Plug in: this feature allows to receive MIDI and control data from the Blue Marble Synth Capsule to use with other digital synthesizers and digital audio workstations such as Ableton LIVE, FL Studio, Presonus Studio 1, etc.

● Who are the artists involved?
Andrew Huang, Benn Jordan, Trovarsi, and MAYSUN, are invited artists who will compose original music with the Blue Marble Synthesizer during this orbital mission. They each possess the adventurer's spirit that we believe is at the heart of this project.

Andrew Huang
We are thrilled to have Andrew Huang, the YouTube phenom and Toronto-based artist join the Blue Marble Synth Project. As a highly acclaimed music and video producer, Andrew's unique ability to seamlessly blend diverse musical styles with captivating visuals aligns perfectly with the innovative vision we seek to bring to life. His creativity, coupled with his commitment to pushing artistic boundaries, makes him an invaluable addition to this project

These 4 artists will compose original music using the Blue Marble Synthesizer and the resulting tracks will be released for project supporters on an exclusive LP post-mission.

● What else can supporters get by supporting?
Beyond accessing the Web-Based interface and Artist Album, supporters also get access to a range of branded Blue Marble Synthesizer merchandise designed by Physical Synthesis. The collection features a sticker and mission patch, hoodie, t-shirt, cap, tote bag, and more.

● What goes inside the Blue Marble Synthesizer? Technical Breakdown
The Blue Marble Synthesizer Capsule consists of a pressurized CubeSat module configured with a control computer, camera, sensor array, fan, LED array, a microphone, and a speaker. The module allows supporters to receive data so they can control other synths and interfaces as well as initiate actions that affect what happens inside the capsule

1. Zero Gravity Dynamics: to make the Blue Marble Synthesizer an instrument that can truly work in space, it requires harnessing the power of zero-gravity. To do this, the synthesizer relies on interactions between a spherical piece of glass – the blue marble – and an array of accurate laser sensors that measure the distance and location of the marble as it floats around a small pressurized chamber.

2. Interactivity from Earth: It is definitely fun to receive data from space, but even more when we can affect what happens up there as well. For this reason, a small fan that agitates the air inside the chamber has been included, causing the marble to move around. There’s also an RGB LED lighting control to change the mood of the footage captured on a wide-angle video stream.

3. USound Sounds: A special feature about this system is a non-magnetic speaker created by a company called USOUND, which developed the first-ever MEMS speaker. This unique piece of technology doesn’t contain magnets like regular speakers, allowing us to play and record sounds from our space capsule without altering the direction of the satellite.

4. Flight Sensors: in addition to the internal sensors, the Blue Marble Synthesizer also accesses the external sensors and cameras that help the satellite navigate on its cyclical 90-minute journey around the earth. These sensors measure things such as temperature, flight path, magnetic fields, and light intensity. Like the internal sensor data, these measurements can be used to control various parameters through either the web-based interface or the Blue Marble Synthesizer API.

5. Global Ground Network: Sensor and flight data are transmitted to the Konigsberg KSAT Global Ground Network managed by satellite provider Odyssey Spaceworks, who then provides earthbound users with real-time interaction with the space synth.

● Who’s the team behind the Blue Marble Synthesizer Project?

Physical Synthesis:
Physical Synthesis stands at the forefront of musical innovation, building musical instruments and electronic interfaces that take users back into the physical world. Each instrument is designed to captivate the senses, inviting musicians and enthusiasts to explore new realms of creativity and self-expression. With an unwavering commitment to exploring new frontiers and reimagining the possibilities of sound, Physical Synthesis empowers musicians and music enthusiasts to venture into uncharted territories of creativity and self-expression.

Odyssey SpaceWorks:
Odyssey SpaceWorks revolutionizes the accessibility of space research with its cutting-edge satellite technology. Specializing in the construction of small satellites containing programmable science labs accessible in real time, Odyssey SpaceWorks enables scientists, researchers, and even individuals to remotely conduct their own experiments in space. In addition to a scientific module on this flight, Odyssey SpaceWorks invited Physical Synthesis to participate in this mission and bring this new musical experience beyond planet earth.

● What’s the development plan?
Phase 01: The first phase of development was marked by the completion of the Blue Marble Synthesizer system architecture and hardware design. The device then journeyed to California and passed vibration/shock testing in early August 2023.

Phase 02: With testing accomplished, the Blue Marble team is currently ramping up software development for the earth-based web interface that supporters will help to create and deploy. The team is also updating all firmware on the module and preparing for spaceflight on November 1, 2023.
Phase 03: On November 1, 2023, The Blue Marble Synthesizer will finally fly aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket. It will then be deployed on an orbital vehicle and brought to low-earth orbit.

After charging and testing, the Blue Marble Synth will go live on Physical Synthesis’ social media where you can see it in action!

● Conclusion
With this Kickstarter, the Blue Marble team is issuing a heartfelt call to the global community. They seek not only financial support to complete the software and testing needed to prepare the module for spaceflight on November 1, 2023 but also the invaluable contributions and shared vision of individuals from around the world. By joining this mission, backers become more than just supporters; they become active contributors to the development and realization of this project.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting @matrixsynth! Really appreciate it and love the breakdown. Here for any questions if that can help


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