BookSound: use book pages to create electronic music

What if a page of a novel can be used as the source to create some sort of electronic music? That’s the idea behind BookSound machine.

Wouldn’t it be great to dance music created from Hemingway, J. D. Salinger or Jack Kerouac prose?

In that case, what kind of mapping could be used to translate words, paragraphs, punctuation and even text mood into electronic dance music?

BookSound, ready to create electronic music with Salinger and Hemingway
Fusion360 model of the machine front piece

Parts used:

  • Raspberry Pi model 2
  • Raspberry Pi camera
  • Oled display
  • A button, a switch, cables
  • Custom case and camera arm made with Fusion360 and Annet A8 3D Printer.
First prototype, wood arm
BookSound Demo with Hemingway

How BookSound machine works?

1. Open a book and place a page under the machine arm

2. Press the black button on the front

3. Wait for the machine to scan, run OCR and map the music

4. Start to dance

The OCR and mapping parts takes around 120 seconds, so the procedure is far from immediate at this point but I have plans to use a more powerful Raspberry.

During the different steps, the OLED screen display messages about what the machine is doing including words recognized, drum kits to be used, BPM, etc.

Book page scanned by Book Sound Machine

What about the mapping between text and music?

The machine determines number of words, words/paragraph, commas/words, sound of phonemes, and it also detects — with a subjective approach — the general mood of the page. All this is combined to create dance music. Some pieces only have percussion tracks and others have also simple repetitive melodies.

BookSound machine

Peace and thanks for your interest in this project.

Roni Bandini — Buenos Aires — Argentina @ronibandini