Midterm Project

Pipa Hero

Pipa Hero is a tool/game that educates through simplicity. By using a pentatonic scale rather than any entire tonal family, a familiar Guitar Hero-like interaction can be utilized to inspire music theory education.

In many ways I was inspired by the work of Harry Partch, Don Buchla, Make Noise, and more. However, rather than a tool to help expand capability, I wanted to apply Game Design-style lesson teaching as games often take the approach of limited-scope education and practice. A popular criticism of Guitar Hero is that it was simply a game and not really a tool for learning guitar. Though Pipa Hero as well will not teach you where to put your hands on any real instrument, by having each note express a particular note (at any octave), players may in a well understood and fun format and learn scales and tonal relationships in a guided, natural, and non-overwhelming manner. In addition, the application of real Chinese tonal systems may introduce many to the ideas of microtonality and non-Western scales and tonal systems.

Hardware:

For the hardware, I just had a series of 5 push buttons. The Arduino ran Firmatta so the settings could be adjusted in Processing.

Software:

As demonstrated by the last video, the hardware is used to control the pitch and amplitude of a synthesizer voice based in Processing. The scale has been chosen and quantized in accordance to a song planned to be in the accompanied game. However, that part did not come together.

A Guitar Hero-like companion game was nearly running. However, I could not solve a lack of syncing between the audio and the scrolling notes, making it virtually non-functional.