Sync or Swim is an interactive sound installation that is also a simple audio game. The object of the game is to find the “sync point” of several melodic/rhythmic layers that are operating at slightly different tempi. Turning a knob on the interface changes the tempi of the various layers by slightly different amounts – and finding the “sweet spot” brings all layers into synchronization. The player must listen carefully to determine how far out of sync the layers are, to try to find the one point on the dial where the layers are in sync. Once the sync point is located, the sound will “bloom” after a few seconds, indicating that the sync point has been discovered. The player will then be presented with a new challenge. There are eight levels of challenges, and upon completing the final level, a special “piece” will emerge out of the final soundscape before the game resets back to level one.

This piece is an examination of ways to create audio games that are also interactive sonic art works. The challenge was to create an aesthetic sound experience that the user can interact with, but that “reveals” itself to the listener as a game, opening up the possibility of changing the state of the composition in significant ways, and to discover the possibilities of the compositional variables. At its core, it is a simple algorithmic sound piece that is made up of a series of looping patterns that are randomly generated and juxtaposed, within specific aesthetic characteristics.

The box contains a Beagleboard ARM board running Ubuntu Linux (Satellite CCRMA), with software developed and running in Pd (Pure Data). Controls and LEDs are interfaced via an Arduino Nano, and sound output is played through built-in powered stereo speakers, and is also available via headphone output jack.

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