Click through the images below to view some projects.

 • Robi in action 2004 - An Audio Visual Motorised Autonomous Twin Feedback Looping Robot System - by Sacha Atkinson.


This project was exploring the possibilities of a feedback loop form, where point ‘A’ in the loop, (a ceiling mounted downward facing projector) would shine onto an otherwise darkened floor area, creating both a box perimeter and the ‘image’ - in this case changing colours and patterns. 


Inside this box was placed a robot which received the perimeter and colour data through point ‘B’ (an onboard video camera) which in response to these colour change, would, in turn, change the drive information to points ‘C & D’ (it’s two wheel’s - speed, direction etc). 


The data driving points ‘C & D’ (the wheels) which cause the motion of robot’s speed and direction, would also drive a sound generating synth patch for each wheel (x2). These outputted different sounds for each wheel, causing 2 separate varying tones through speakers mounted behind each wheel. Depending on speed and direction data, the robot output a mix of varying tones whilst it drove around the illuminated colourful box. 


To complete the loop though, the motion, speed and more importantly position of the robot within the perimeter of the box would, in turn, effect point ‘E’ (static overhead camera no2), which captured the robot’s location within the box to determine the colour and pattern that the projector would shine at point ‘A’ using a Max Jitter patch.


All in all creating a feedback looping musical colourful moving robot performance which resembled a dance.


This Project used: chassis of a baby walker. Plastic box. Cable Ties. Max MSP & Jitter. Telio Interfacing. Old RF Racing Car Wheels. Stepper Motors. Speakers. DV Cam x2 & Projector.


You see it’s good to be able to make your own tech too, whether you make a home made Hydrophone or a robot such as above, modifying, hacking or adapting old disgarded tech is resourceful and creative 

• ‘Max Patch control interface’ for project ‘SUIT’ 2003.

   by Sacha Atkinson.


SUIT was an interactive dance suit, designed to give the dancer the ability to control the sounds and lighting of their performance intended as a sort of freedom.


The suit fabric was created by Bodacea Creations Costumes based on my requirements which fitted  my dancer and her needs, Gina D’Angelo a Bristol based performer.


I then went about installing switches, buttons, flex actuators, potentiometers, temperature & moisture sensors and more - all hard wired into a waist mounted backpack (a hacked wireless games controller) which then via RF transmitted the various channels of data over to my computer and into MaxMSP and Jitter patches.


This data then drove a range of audio elements such as filters and reverb, sample selection, playback speed, reverse loops among many other options. 


The performance took place abroad Il’Bordello (Bristol Harbour based converted Thames Barge Night Club) operated by Bristol based designer Liz Lewitt.


There is fairly strong lineage on this topic, with a range of approaches to achieving similar effects going back to the 1960s, and with some attempts as early as the 1920s. Today companies such as: Lucinda Childs, Stelarc, Mark Coniglio & Troika Ranch use such approaches and methodologies.


My SUIT project used equipment that was fairly modern and available at the time. Of course there have been many more designs since mainly using image tracking and sensor gloves etc. 

Read my paper here:

• Future Technical Project Ideas:


Another piece of recent tech i’m starting to investigate for music and performance purposes is the Raspberry Pi - https://www.raspberrypi.org.


I’ve seen some really cool things happening out there from tech teams making some unique devices with this computer set at the heart of their project from retro computer emulation builds to security camera at a private residence. 


It has built in USB and WIFI for starters, with plenty of more traditional ports for old school printers and drives etc…


Now and then I run hardware design courses and Hardware Hacking / circuit bending workshops and classes, so because this RP device is pretty much an entire computer, I could integrate some into my work and classes - and the most amazing thing is that we can each loan one from our county library!


(RP is about as powerful as an iPhone 6, which is an amazing punch of power for future hand held interactive hardware design and music interfacing potential).


I;m looking forward to getting into this RP once I have the time, so I’ll keep you posted as and when I have one of these projects up and running ;)

    • GPS Cat Tracker Compositions…

Experimental Translatory Scoring Methods: 2018 - ongoing…


Another area of interest for me is scoring methods. Now I mean this in the broadest sense. Essentially designing methods to translate otherwise inanimate or benign information into data which conventional musicians can interpret and play from.


Whilst I do do electronic and digital projects I much prefer the resultant vibe of acoustic devices and instruments. So where possible I like to interface between the two bridging the gap which helps bring things to life for me.


The world around us is full of information, be it literal or interpretative, physical or sensory. i.e. how a leaf is constructed or the patterns waves make in the ocean. 


My aim here is to create a method (or series of methods or algorithms), for interpreting that information into a format able to be used in computer music however i’m more interested in making that information into a readable score thus playable by conventional musicians to be performed to the listener. In essence creating a translation formula, from context to score, so as to enable musicians to read and play the world around us.


Scoring has been an invention from the start and has a massive history of change and modification. Experimental music has generated many scoring and conducting forms over the last one hundred years, which lays a good pathway for this research to continue along.


• Example 1: Cat Tracker, featured above, attempts to ‘read’ GPS map coordinate plotting, time and speed data showing cat behaviour, adding: terrain - altitude, urban vs rural contexts etc. Which can then be converted into an original orchestral work.


FreeCatFreeComposition is in development. 

@2018 Sacha Atkinson UK.

Hoping to work with: 

Professor James Saunder & the Open Scores Lab

• Audio Illusions of Diana Deutsch , Steve Reich others…


Musical & audio Illusions are another area of interest for me. Whether from instrument phasing and phantom overtones or the Yanny - Laurel project famous in 2018. A key researcher in this genre is British American researcher Dr Dianna Deutsch and her audio puzzles. Diana demonstrates how different listeners demonstrate different responses to what it being said, even to the point of them using their biological mother’s voice as a sort of filter in order to predict and set unconscious expectations. So theses illusions whist they tend to effect everyone, they fail to have the same outcomes. Cultural and biological elements can effect what is heard or at least what is perceived and therefore interpreted.

This line of thought may be what bolsters the Chinese people to have perfect pitch as a general rule. Diana’s OCTAVE illusion, is a neat example of direction of pitch and assumptions our brains make.


• One of my own experiments was to set up a standing wave generator to the exact size of the space within a room. then work with  some instruments to play musical phrases and scales passing through the standing wave tone in order to hear the increases in volume or in some cases the cancellation of it, thus apparent quieting of the note.


• Though slightly different, another experimental piece I created used directional speakers to message specific members in an audience, who were watching a conventional theatrical performance, to see if they might be induced to clap, stand or jeer at the wrong or inappropriate times.

references:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanny_or_Laurel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_illusion

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsch%27s_scale_illusion

• 3 books worth having when researching music psychology.


Research Project:  

Music & Influence on Human Behaviour: 2018- ongoing by Sacha Atkinson. 



• Exploring the role of Music and Influence - Does music have any inherent ability to influence people or their behaviour? 


We need of course to first define ‘influence’ and ‘behaviour’ & all the other elements in this research, in order to be clear about our directions and outcomes.


Maybe there is no inherent or intrinsic capacity for music to influence human behaviour?  If music has any ability at all to influence the listener, maybe these are directly associated to cultural codes and social contexts? 


So far my research points at the possibility that rhythm has the capacity to influence human behaviour across cultures, by ‘causing’ the listener to respond ‘in time’ to the rhythmic sound source. However I have yet to discover if tonality, harmony, melody or pitch have any capacity to ‘cause’ appropriate responses outside of our specific cultures.


In short; if I played a modern western track to an isolated asian who has never heard such music, would then this music have the same effect on that listener that it might have on a person who already has a framework for it’s cultural context i.e. a westerner? So does the tone or mode effect the mood of the listener who lacks those cultural contexts? The answer to date seems to be ‘no it doesn’t’, with the exception of rhythm. But there is more work to do on this topic to be sure, and a whole world to explore!



Research ongoing:

I will be looking into the ‘power’ of ear worms and their apparent transference from one subject to another in an aim to identify whether it is the rhythm of theses ear-worms which make them ‘stick’ so well or if the tonal and/or melodic elements might play a role.



Also I am investigating language and music interpretation, reflecting on a range of linguistic structures which may suggest a relationship to music, mantra, prayer and language.



I also want to research tricks that stage hypnotists use, such as Derren Brown, to see if their influential work is transferable across different languages and cultures and to see if there are any which synchronise with tones and accents etc.

SACHA ATKINSON - MUSICOLOGIST

Research & Development Labs:

Music Based Research Projects & Tech/Art Projects:

Scroll through the photos to explore a few examples of research.

© Sacha Atkinson 2019-2020. All rights reserved.

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