August 26, 2022    Aaron Aupperlee

Carnegie Mellon Students Blend Fabric and Sound During Annual Textile Jam

It’s not Beethoven, Bruno Mars or even the Beatles, but students from across Carnegie Mellon University assembled quite a band this summer.

The students came from the School of Computer Science’s Robotics Institute; the Entertainment Technology Center; the School of Music; and the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe). Their instruments were made of yarn and fabric, and incorporated light, vibration and other sensors. The music? Lo-fi and gritty.

“They’re the grist for the mill of a broader composition. They’re not a finished project,” said Robotics Institute Assistant Professor Jim McCann of the sounds produced.

Fabric and sound were the focus of McCann’s latest jam, an annual tradition in his Textiles Lab that invites students and faculty from other schools and departments around campus to collaborate on fun projects. Past jams have focused on quilting, knitting, weaving and games. The jams last a week and are typically held over the summer, when researchers crave a bit of an escape.

“Sometimes people engaged in serious research need to take a break and exercise their brains in different ways,” McCann said. “Jams allow us to create for the joy of creating, learn new skills and make connections with others on campus in a fun environment.”

The jam produced four projects: a piezo-sensing fabric drum, a fabric accordion that uses photosensors, a resistively sensed synth controller and an inductively sensed fabric tape loop. Listen to the jam and hear from the researchers behind the projects in the video above.

Original article from CMU School of Computer Science News