The Human Harp is a project led by artist Di Mainstone with hardware and software engineering by Becky Stewart and Adam Stark. The project draws inspiration from suspension bridges and explores how they can be transformed into musical instruments through augmentation with physical computing interfaces.
Our 3 hour NIME workshop was held at Goldsmiths and lead participants through the hardware and software central to the Human Harp - in particular the hardware string interface and the sound generation software. Participants were able to get hands-on experience programming and testing the Arduino-based hardware and then a guided tour through the software generating the audio.
The Human Harp is an open source project that is releasing all associated code and design files under creative commons and open source licenses. However, not all members of the NIME community may be comfortable with programming Arduinos and setting up bespoke physical interfaces. In this workshop, participants will be guided through how to install and test microcontroller code using the Arduino environment and then using the data stream generated by the Arduino to control audio playback.
The workshop introduced the Human Harp project framed within its artistic and technical objectives. The participants were able to physically interact with the different modules of the installation that generate audio before being led through the microcontroller code and audio software. By the end of the workshop, participants learned how to access open source software on Github and set up a Human Harp for their own development.
The workshop started with a talk from Di Mainstone about the creative inspiration for the piece and the history of the project. The current prototype of the physical computing interface will be demonstrated and then workshop attendees will be led through the technology.
By the end of the workshop, participants learned how to robustly develop hardware and software for live performance through the case study of the Human Harp. They gained hands-on experience programming and testing hardware built around the Arduino toolchain along with software frameworks, using tools common to open source communities such as Github.