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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Sunshine Machine?
Eh?! What?!
Why are you doing this?
What’s the point?
Can I make one?
How does it work (technical)?
Who are you?
Is it just you?
My question isn’t answered here. How do I find out something else?

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What is Sunshine Machine?
On a very basic level Sunshine Machine is a musical instrument that creates it’s own music depending on where it is. It’s a collection of handmade hardware and some software patches that change the ambient light, and especially changes in ambient light, into sound.
Essentially Sunshine Machine is a musical instrument that plays the world as we see it. It lets us hear what we see around us.

Eh?! What?!
Pretty lights make pretty music.

Why are you doing this?
Honestly I don’t quite know lol. It’s an idea I’ve had rumbling around my brain for the past half a decade or so in some form or another. I thought it might be something that would interest other people as much as it interests me. More than anything else I want other people to take over and it to become a public project. I love the Open Source ideal and this is my attempt at it in an artistic fashion.

What’s the point?
What a ridiculous question to ask?! It’s music. It doesn’t need a point beyond that.

Can I make one?
Yes you can! All the information you’ll need or would want is available on the Open Source page. The best starting point is the “Getting Started” PDF. It contains all circuit diagrams, guide to 555 chips, where to source your components, signal flow diagrams, some basic Bidule patches, and suggests ways to do it on a budget. You don’t need anything special to be able to do it except a computer of some description.
It might sound really complex but if you have a steady hand and can borrow a soldering iron you can do it. If you don’t know you’re way around audio or electronics language do not fret; you’re still completely capable.

How does it work (technical)?
The sensors are actually simple photo-theremin circuits. These utilise NORPS12 light dependant resistors. As the light levels received by the photocells vary the circuits output varying pitches. However for the purposes of this system the pitches output by the sensors are treated more as control voltage information rather than actual pitch data.
These signals are then run into an audio interface. The signals then pass through Plogue’s Bidule environment (maxmsp, pure data, reactor and others are all capable of doing these functions, I just prefer Bidule). Within Bidule the audio is gained up (the sensors outputs are very weak) and each sensor’s output run through a real-time fast fouler transform process. The results of the FFT are then converted to MIDI data. The MIDI data is then rechannelised to an independent MIDI channel and the pitch data quantised into a musical scale. The scale is related to the geographical coordinates and the designers whim.
Finally the MIDI output of Bidule is then routed into a DAW program (in this case Ableton Live, although most DAWs would suffice), and each channel assigned a simple waveform generator that can be triggered via MIDI. The combined output of these waveform generators are finally run through a stage of granular resynthesis.
The pulse/heartbeat you hear is a count down. It divides each second into 4 pulses and reinforces the link to a normal clock at 60 BPM. This is overlaid on the master output post the granular stage.

Who are you?
I’m Liam Maloney. I class myself as a “creative” rather than a musician. I play in bands, write music, DJ, the majority of my time is spent messing around with audio in almost any sense. My day job is/should be a music technology lecturer at a college in the North West. I like turkey dinosaur and bean sandwiches (try them!), love disco, hate wasps and loathe football. That pretty much sums me up I think.

Is it just you?
Of course not. While The project is my baby and I started the thing there are a lot of people who have helped me/tried to help me the past year.
Nik Bryant is the man behind the camera for the majority of the recordings. The perfect travelling companion for this project. He always has something to chat about, is always enthusiastic (even at 4am) and can carry a lot at once (most important of all! lol). When I don’t have Nik with me stuff normally looks a bit crappy on the video (see SM7).
Noah Buckley is another one of those poor people who I tend to drag along to installations with me when I need a pack mule. He has been lovely enough to wake up at 3am to drive up mountains and done 14 hour round trips with me in the name of this project. Couldn’t ask for more.
In addition to those are the lovely Kris Weatherall (Sky High Octopi) and Naomi Lord. While their contributions are way more behind the scenes I’m very grateful to the both of them. Kris for helping me with the website in a bizarre roundabout way, and Naomi for helping me write copy and statements about the project.
Finally there are those people who just come along for the ride, listen to the thing, and/or promote it to which I’m very thankful. There are too many to list lol.

My question isn’t answered here. How do I find out something else?
Fill in the form below or head over to the contact page and try one of the many ways in which you can contact us.

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Latest Installation Audio

Sunshine Machine 10 //
01/10/11 //
07:04 - 07:13 //
Home, Northwest, UK //

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