Bell Controller

Motor-Control Instrument

A motor control interface for 15 vibration motors and LEDs attached to jingle bells. Used for installations and live performance. Performed acoustic or amplified. Featured in Experimental Music Yearbook 2016.

GitHub Repository

Expressive Control

The bell controller allows for expressive control through a few simple parameters:

  • Performance vs. Installation mode
  • Whether a motor is on or off
  • "Note on" length
  • "Note off" length
  • Intensity of motor and LED
  • Acceleration or Deceleration

When a motor is "on", it flashes/vibrates at a rate controlled by a combination of "note on" and "note off" rates. The combined rate is then scaled differently for each motor, preventing any two motors from flashing at the exact same rate.

The structure of the program is based on a single motorcontrol() function. Each motor uses the same function with slightly different parameters. All logic is self-contained in the Arduino. You can view the code on github.


Performances with the bell controller can either be amplified or completely acoustic. Amplification introduces other control elements that are used compositionally thoughout the performance (live EQ and mixing). Tape and magnets are also used to change the timbre of the bells.

Performance excerpt (amplified version) from the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. October 26, 2017. Video by Ian Byers-Gamber


Related Events

02-24-2020  -  Research + Practice Visiting Artist: Sonic Instrument Building Lecture , CalArts

09-29-2019  -  Shhh , 8:30pm , Human Resources

12-02-2018  -  SASSAS sound. Fahad Siadat and Stephanie Smith , 3pm , Kings Road Park Pavilion

11-10-2018  -  Ableton Loop 2018: "Touch, Code, Play: creating hybrid physical-digital music instruments" , 12pm , EastWest Studio 1

10-24-2018  -  Machines and Strings, Pt. II @ REDCAT , 8:30pm , REDCAT

08-02-2018  -  Interface Design II - Golden Heep Smith Eitches Demastes , 8pm , Coaxial, Los Angeles

11-18-2017  -  LA Phil: Noon to Midnight , 5:30pm - Midnight , Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

09-24-2017  -  soundSpark Extravaganza , 11am - 4pm , Kings Road Park Pavilion, 1000 N Kings Rd, West Hollywood, CA

10-26-2017  -  Performing at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA , 7pm , The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, CA

11-11-2016  -  Motor Arrays on Tour with EMY Issue 2016 , 8pm , Touring (see link for details)

08-13-2016  -  Christofides, Krieger, and Smith at the wulf. , 8pm , the wulf.

06-02-2016  -  Solarc Pilot Series: Batch 4 , 8pm , MorYork, 4959 York Blvd, Los Angeles

06-13-2015  -  Motor Arrays on Ear Meal , 8pm , Ear Meal (online)

03-07-2015  -  Performing in soundSpark , 12pm , Children's Theatre, West Hollywood Library