Presented At
Priceless Festival: 2015-2019, 2022
Jazz Technology Workshop: 2017
Figment Boston: 2016
The Shipley School: 2016
Private functions: 2015-present
Touchtone instruments human contact, creating music and light based on how participants are touching each other. By augmenting direct contact between people and adding an element of exploratory play, Touchtone provides an opportunity for people to share touch with each other in a way that is non-goal oriented and captures a sense of wonder and delight.
Paper craft by Deborah Yoon Zacharias
Paper craft by Deborah Yoon Zacharias
Touchtone explores human touch through musical reactivity. The project started by measuring the small changes in electrical resistance made by a human "circuit". After a great deal of trial and error and the addition of many layers of signal processing, I arrived at its current incarnation; a generative music system activated by skin-to-skin contact. Touchtone outputs MIDI to control various synthesizers, turning human touch itself into a musical instrument. To create visual feedback I additionally created a system to control multiple incandescent lights. The work I have put into this project over the years has taught me a great deal about low voltage electronics, signal processing, AC power dimming, radio interference, grounding, music theory, synthesizer control, and woodworking.
One of the earliest versions of Touchtone involved a 2015 collaboration with Xiao Xiao, a Media Lab alumna. We used the touch input to control a player piano so that while she was playing music directly on the piano, I was playing music on her arm algorithmically derived from the notes she was playing (see below).

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