Tunnel Divisions


Tunnel Divisions is a sound installation/ music composition by Stephen Trothen and Cayley MacArthur in collaboration with the Critical Media Lab.

The initial run of the piece occurred and was recorded between 12:00pm and 4:00pm on March 28, 2014 in the underground tunnel connecting South Campus Hall to Arts Lecture Hall at the University of Waterloo .

The work attempts to contextualize the concept of “City of Platform” by using the rhythms of a public space to organize a generative sound composition.

The piece utilized 5 PIR sensors, an Arduino microcontroller, Max/ MSP and Ableton Live.

The 5 sensors were used to divide the underground tunnel into four measures of music.

Individuals moving through the tunnel trigger piano notes, the output of which was divided into two sets of speakers.

The speed with which individuals moved from one sensor to the next determined both the tempo of the subdivisions of notes, as well as the complexity of the note phrases, and the scheduling of key changes all within Max.

The speakers for the left and right audio channels were positioned at opposite ends of the tunnel, and rhythmically echoed each other across different octaves and playing dynamics.

The full audio for the installation will be linked to below.

How did this project use Max?

Max was used as the engine for the composition. It processed the information from the Arduino/ PIR sensors to trigger sounds that were harmonically and rhythmically generated by Max.