I am Iris van der Ende, harpist and theatre maker. During the Instrument Lab residency I have worked on a system that extended my harp to an interface. I wanted to play the strings and interact with stellar sounds.
I arrived at the Instrument Lab with my pedal harp and an interactive system that was almost working. Fetapapa who worked at Steim developed this for me: a software programme connected to some of the strings by small microphones. The Stellar Sound System. But it was hard to gain specific midinotes by playing the strings because the harp is an instrument with a lot of harmonical overtones.
When I showed my case at the Instrument Lab I immediatly got advice from the staff. How I could better attach the microphones to the strings. Where exactly on the string the vibration was most intense, in order to gain the best signal. And the wise advice to put some foam material between the microphone and the wooden body of the harp to isolate the signal from one string to another and to mute the vibrations of the harp.
After some days of testing materials between the strings (yogamatrass, handkerchiefs, rubber) I found the best material: soft sponges. And my Stellar Sound System started to run! I could play harp and rely on the computer giving midinotes. Harpists can download the tool Stellar Sound System here: http://www.fetapapa.com/FetaPapa/Stellar_Sound.html
Next to this technical victory it was very inspiring to work between the other residents who all developed new instruments. The way they intergrate technology in their performance was an eye opener to me. The theremin extended with arduinos performed by Jan Klug. The sculpture of Luigi Pizzaleo interacting with the sound the oud from Hasan Hujairi. The saxophone with electronical distortion from Sam Andreae. The movement tracking Space Palette from Tim Thompson..
And I was very inspired by the lectures in the Instrument Lab about new instruments. The performances developed at Steim blew my mind. The performance with 2 Wii controllers by Alex Nowitz. The internal amplified laptop screen played with a violin bow by Hans Koch. His crashing computer concert. The Hands from Michel Waisvisz. A world of technologic music performance opens to me.
Rightnow, since my harp is really interactive, the new question arrives to me. How can I relate me playing harp to the sounds being triggered… I am very excited to explore this new world. I will integrate the system in my performance Stellar Sound Rooftop for end of June. And I am very excited that I am welcome to continue my artistic research in the house of Steim next six weeks!