David Cihelna, Gabriel Weintraub

A large-scale sculptural color organ, with abstract sound and light emanating from within.


The notion of a “color organ” dates as far back as the late 16th century, when inventors first began designing machines that would produce modulated colored light in some manner that corresponded with a piece of music. I've been fascinated by these devices for a long time, but I am not a musician, so I designed a device that would let me “play” the color, not the music. Using an array of momentary switches and pressure sensors, I've created a controller that modulates color that emanates from within the device – the piece contains 12 separate channels of RGB LED strips – and that can be played as though it were a musical instrument.

Since beginning this project, I've also collaborated with David Cihelna on a pressure-sensitive MIDI controller. Because the control schemes are very similar, we've chosen to combine the two projects in order to create a fully-fledged color organ that produces both color and sound and also integrates the experience of “performing” with a musical instrument.

I've also brought my experience as a sculptor to bear on this project. Historically, pipe organs, beyond being elaborate musical instruments, have incorporated a great deal of sculptural and architectural acumen as part of their overall experience. In that vein, I've presented my color organ in a sculptural form, taking a more contemporary geometric form that matches the characteristics of the LEDs it contains, but also incorporating fine woodworking like many musical instruments of the past.


Introduction to Physical Computing