I am a very light sleeper and can be woken up by virtually any sudden or unexpected noise. The problem persisted for years before it occurred to me that I tended to sleep better in the summer when it was warmer, which seemed rather counterintuitive to me. But it turned out that it wasn’t the temperature that lulled me to sleep and kept me there, it was the rhythmic white noise generated by the air conditioner in my bedroom window. Since then I’ve discovered that any repetitive or mechanical sounds work pretty well, and depending on the type of object being printed the sounds of a working 3D printer are more than a little soothing. There are times when the sounds that come from my 3D printer are almost musical, and certainly when the print job is repetitive, they are certainly rhythmic.
So it isn’t a surprise to me at all that there are musicians capturing the sounds from 3D printers and incorporating them into their own music. Two years ago a UK-based electronic music group Feral Five released their single called “3D” about replicating humans with a 3D printer. The song also incorporated several different sounds taken from a working 3D printer and used for the beat of the song. It is actually a pretty catchy song, and the duo, Kat and Drew Five, received quite a bit of attention for it. Now Feral Five is back with a new song and it incorporates the sounds made by 3D printers even more than their previous effort, this time with a little bit of help.
On their new single, “Rule 9“, Feral Five has collaborated with noted 3D designer Francis Bitonti to create a new type of dance music, “Datapop”. Bitonti, of the recently-rebranded Studio Bitonti, has become one of the faces of 3D printed fashion, having both designed a 3D printed dress worn by Dita Von Teese and created an entire line of stunning 3D printed shoes. For the Rule 9 song, Kat and Drew Five took sound files made by Bitonti on the 3D printer working at his studio printing his designs, materials and other geometric objects and mixed them with their own music and vocals. The duo also used just the sound files from Bitonti’s 3D printers and edited together a dub mix called Rule 9 Algorhythms.
“This collaboration speaks to the nature of digital work, it’s all data. Music or a chair we can map those patterns onto sound waves or materials. This collaboration highlights how digital technologies are flattening these creative disciplines,” explained Bitonti.
The New York-based Bitonti and the London-based Feral Five had already been admirers of each other’s work with 3D printing. So when they all finally met each other in person in London they quickly hatched a plan to collaborate on something. Rule 9 could easily be the soundtrack to any stylish fashion show, and the rhythmic and almost soothing hum of the printer mixes perfectly with the understated and monotone vocals from Kat Five. And it isn’t just the sounds of a 3D printer alone that you’re hearing, Bitonti actually generated the sounds using an algorithmic music composition process that incorporates both the physical printing and his design algorithms in a technique that he describes as “Cellular Automaton to generate sound”. But the sounds of a working 3D printer are clearly identifiable to anyone with one of their own, and the result is an infectious pop song that sneaks up on you like a ninja and plants itself firmly in the back of your brain.
“Francis’s sounds are striking, beautiful and hypnotic, and the sound waves like no music we have ever seen. Working with them to create music to dance to has been brilliant,” said Feral Five.
You can hear the song on Soundcloud here:
Rule 9 is the electronic dance song of the summer, and it hums along at the same steady pace that any desktop 3D printer would keep, which is what makes the song so intriguing for me. The sound of the music is unmistakably a 3D printer, albeit processed through its algorithms, yet it still sounds like music and not at all the sound produced by a piece of manufacturing equipment. Bitonti contributed more to the collaboration than his 3D printer Cellular Automaton sounds, he also designed the striking track artwork that features the actual algorithm that he used to generate the music. While you can hear it now on Soundcloud, Rule 9 is set to be released as a single on July 22nd. And make sure you check out the Rule 9 Algorithms Dub Mix here. Discuss further in the Dance Music & 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.