Peter Elsner: Head Resonance - Sound Research Project
Peter Elsner: Head Resonance - Sound Research Project


Rewind to 1982. Peter Elsner and I had formed the interdisciplinary artist group “Head Resonance Company” in Wolfsburg in 1978. Ars Electronica had invited us to the “Grosse Preis” in 1982 and we were planning to present the Solar Powered Random Sound Generator (SPRSG) in 1984, a sound sculpture to transform sunlight into music. 30 pieces were to be placed around the world. A prototype was visualized on a VAX at Volkswagen, built and an 8080-microprocessor programmed. And then the group dissolved.

Forward to 2011. A friend of mine and I were sailing on his two-mast ketch near Sardinia when I picked up the old idea and began to programm a phase-shifting sequencer on the HP-200LX, sound output was the BASIC beep command. Pretty soon I was asked to stop the annoying sounds and I started to understand that music is not only structure but should sound nicely. At home I attached the HP-200LX to a Yamaha TG-100 Midi sound generator and things started to get better.

Another 10 years passed. I ported the system to a Linux Laptop, got help from friends to overcome my programming deficiencies, tried multichannel installations, used natural piano sounds, did performances in many places and countries and eventually condensed everything to a self contained, booksized object, the Pi-based Pentatonic Permutations Player (PPP) with full 16 bit/44.1 kHz natural piano sound.

And now we have a realtime as well as a streaming version. The realtime version loads the sound font only once at startup and then plays the notes locally synchronised to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Here no streaming costs arise no matter how long you are playing.