Whistler's Symphony in White

Whistler’s Symphony in White

Synesthesia is a rare condition in which the person affected takes in one form of sensory input and ‘reads’ it in another. For example, a synesthete might see colors when listening to music or hear notes when reading numbers. This type of translation of media has also long provided an inspiration to visual and performing artists who work to convey emotions or experiences in alternative formats. James McNeil Whistler famously titled his paintings with musical terms, such as Nocturne in Blue and Gold or Symphony in White, to indicate his own, richer experience of visual compositions.

Trading on that same idea, Joy Complex has released a conductor’s baton created from the visual representation of sound waves. This particular baton was crafted in honor of Beethoven’s 244th birthday by using the waveforms produced from the first four notes of his Symphony No. 5. If you aren’t a classical music aficionado, no matter, this is probably the one opening of a symphony that everyone knows. Lean in closely, it starts: duh-duh-duh-duuuum. Okay, it’s hard to convey in writing, so here is the visual as annotated in musical notation:

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And here is a clip of the short-short-short-long motif that runs throughout the piece.

Joy Complex has been experimenting in the area of sound to form production for some time and has a line of jewelry pieces created from the wave forms of the spoken word. They currently have among their offerings pendents and earrings created from the forms made by saying the phrase “I love you” in a wide variety of languages. The even offer custom pieces, so you can have a piece created from your own voice recording.

625x465_1795088_6602103_1412015162If you imagine this baton taking its place in a Harry Potter-like world of music conducting, you can see the potential for conductors to have batons created for them from particularly personally significant passages of music. Currently, the baton is being offered in two sizes, a thinner 13” version to be used for display or a thicker 12” version better suited to actual use in conducting. (Although you could probably get away with some light conducting with the thinner version if you found yourself in a pinch!)

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A traditional conductor’s baton next to Beethoven’s soundwave baton

The printed batons can be purchased through Shapeways along with the other pieces offered by Joy Complex. It’s only $15 and with the continual pressure to find something nifty to gift for the looming holidays, this might be the perfect way to support 3D printing and get yourself some small moment of relief.  Discuss these interesting pieces of work in the 3D Printed Music forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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