Sonic Scrolls

Jason Sigal

An interactive musical notation and performance system based on color and shape.


Sonic Scrolls is a notation system that generates music from drawings. The colors red, green and blue each represent a different musical instrument, and correspond with lower or higher pitches depending on their position in the “Sonic Scroll.”

You can draw a Sonic Scroll using red, green and blue pens and the templates I have provided. You are invited to perform your scroll with the “Scroll Singer”, a modified overhead projector by which you may control the speed and direction of playback. I designed a paper template for the Sonic Scrolls using Adobe Illustrator, and laser cut a piece of plexiglass to secure the webcam atop the Scroll Singer. I wrote the program in Max/MSP/Jitter.

I tested the first iteration earlier this year at a Beam Center workshop for kids. The primary feedback I received in my testing was that the character of a shape should impact the quality of its sound. For example, a jagged shape should sound more jagged, a big shape should be louder, and a long shape should have a slower decay. I am working with blob detection in computer vision to achieve this in my revamped Max/MSP/Jitter patch. I also developed a more engaging visual representation that I will project onto a wall. If the project is selected for the show, I would also take this opportunity to refine the physical interface of the Scroll Singer. Thank you for your consideration!


Live Image Processing and Performance