Somewhere over the Rainbow

Made by Joanna Baranowski

Created: October 16th, 2016



I thought of my project through my most prominent application of music: my ukulele. I began by thinking: how could I translate a song into something tangible. And the first thing I could think of was the ukulele chords chart in my head. A chord chart tells you where to put your fingers on the strings of a string instrument to produce a chord. This was my starting point. 

Once I had this, I thought of simplifying the chord into a grid. I sketched out some chords on graph paper and filled in the squares of the grid that corresponded to a fret and string (ultimately telling you how to play the chord). Once I had this idea in my head, I chose a song to work with. I chose "Somewhere over the Rainbow" by Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole (a ukulele player known by almost all other players). I chose this song because it is probably the first song any amateur learns on the ukulele, myself included. The chords for this song are C, Em, Am, and F. I sketched out the chords on my newly found grid interpretation and then cut them out of cardboard, layering the cardboard squares to build a 3D musical representation. 

After my basis of the chords were built, I wasn't quite satisfied with how dull and boring my project was, especially given the song I was working with. What did I do to fix this?...Of course I added rainbows...

And Ta-Daaa, my project was complete because I ran out of time to fiddle with it more. 



I created a simplistic project out of a largely complicated idea. I used cardboard, scissors, athletic tape (the only adhesive on-hand at the time), graph paper, and colored pencils. The texture of the squares that protrude was created by removing the top layer of cardboard to reveal the ridged texture inside. I enhanced the texture of the cardboard by drawing black lines between the ridges to darken the shadows. 



I approached the assignment with a completely blank canvas. Like most other people, I was open to any interpretation of the task at hand. I also began with a 2-dimensional template and worked off of that to create something that is arguably 3-dimensional. 

The biggest thing that informed my approach was the plethora of cardboard donated by my roommate. I surfed the web and found that many people too advantage of the ridged interior of the cardboard to add texture to their compositions, so I did the same. 



I do not personally think I captured the content of the audio, simply because this representation requires explanation to understand what the squares mean. Perhaps only other ukulele players will recognize this as the original sound. I learned that it is possible to interpret sound through a tangible medium, however it requires a lot of "thinking outside the box." If I could do this project again, I would try to really bring this representation into the third dimension. I don't know how I would accomplish this, but I would really find it interesting to utilize space and represent it as sound.

Share this Project


62-150 Intro to Media Synthesis and Analysis

· 28 members

New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers a...more