Media Showcase

Tongue Music
Hye Yeon Nam, Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Tech, USA

In the Tongue Music project, we examine a performance-instrumental that makes use of the human tongue to yield amorous sounds, either by solo using a primary tongue controller or as a duet (The Sound of a Kiss) pairing a tongue controller and a receiver. We describe the design of the system and how the participants use the technology in a creative way to produce music.

Implementation - The Tongue Music interface has two components: a customized headset that functions as sensor receiver and a magnet that provides sensor input: magnetic field sensors are attached to the end of the headset, positioned in front of the mouth and the participant affixes a magnet to her tongue with Fixodent. As the participant moves her tongue, this creates varying magnetic fields, which are used to generate a variety of rhythmic tunes. Tongue Music can be played by one participant. But as with kissing, the performance is more engaging when two participants share the interface. When there are two performers, one person wears the headset and the other attaches the magnet to her tongue. The performers then kiss to create sounds as a collaborative affair. Through this interaction, a kiss is translated into music.

Hardware/Software - Hall Effect Sensors communicate the magnet’s movement to an Arduino microcontroller. A computer runs Processing software which captures the input data and passes it on to Pure Data via OSC (open sound control). We convert signal to sound in Pure Data software. The system triggers six minor and major notes as well as ambient sound. The musical composition is determined by how far one’s tongue is away from the other’s lips/tongue and the couple’s style of kissing.

Conclusion - Tongue Music: The Sound of a Kiss can be thought of as a sonic representation of the abstract concept of love. Love is a complex emotion, so representing it is a daunting task. Most of us agree that kissing is a natural expression of affection. We hope experiences like Tongue Music: The Sound of a Kiss can reveal and expand the affectionate bond between people.

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