Miami New World Symphony - "Breath and Brass"

hardware fabrication  |  firmware development  |  physical computing

Breath Visualization Rehearsal and Testing

"Breath and Brass" is a project I worked on in collaboration with the Miami New World Symphony and a group of students and faculty at Parsons to make dynamic, code driven visuals to accompany the musical performance.

Working with Poulenc's Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone, we visualize inhales and exhales together with the notes, volume and speed of the music to reveal the connection between the physicality of music making and the relationships of the sounds and instruments to each other.

Custom Sensors and Hardware

To measure the breathing we built custom hardware, consisting of a velcro and elastic band that wraps around the musician's torso. The front of the band is made of conductive rubber, which measures the expansion and contraction of the musician's chest as he or she breathes. A WiFly unit attached to the band sends the data wirelessly to the computer running the software.


We integrated all the data into two narratives, dubbed "Orbits" and "Lines." "Orbits" consists of a series of concentric circles of increasing radius. The difference between radii maps to the breathing data, so the circles expand and contract. There is one circle for each of the 17 bands of frequency data, and activity on each frequency populates the respective orbit with orbiting "planetoids."


"Lines" consists of three creatures made up of lines, one creature for each musician. The breathing data controls the length of the lines themselves, causing the creatures to grow and shrink, while the amplitude of the audio maps to the opacity, causing the creatures to brighten and fade.

Testing a prototype with a fellow New School student

The project was lead by Ed Keller, Joe Saavedra and Leif Percifield. I worked on these two movement with Mauricio Sanchez, Francesca Castelli, Michael Kahane and Matt Griffis. I worked mainly on the hardware and firmware. I designed a band that could hold the conductive rubber cord and Arduino and be adjusted to fit different size musicians. I also built a housing for the Arduino board and 3D printed it on MakerBot machines and then assembled all the pieces into a single unit that would be ready for any performance.

Final Software Movement 1
Final Software Movement 2
Final Firmware
Full Code Repository