Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens presents Butterfly Forest, a popular exhibit open each April through September at one of the largest conservatories in the U.S., based in Pittsburgh, PA.  Here, you can watch colorful butterflies break free of their chrysalises to soar and glide among beautiful Phipps blooms, getting an up-close look of some of nature's most prized pollinators. You will also be surrounded by hundreds of sounds generated by tiny computers hidden amongst the foliage.  These sounds were designed by Carnegie Mellon University students enrolled in a course titled Experimental Sound Synthesis, which explores the intersections of music and technology within the fields of sound design, experimental music, and installation art.

The students in this course designed their sonic compositions to support and uplift the experience of visitors walking amongst the butterflies.  They also wrote code that makes their sound pieces into "generative" compositions - the sounds that one hears are created through algorithms that produce continuously changing sound experiences.

The composers, sound designers, coders, and builders behind this work are:

Abby Adams
Sara Adkins
Joshua Brown
Gladstone Butler
Luigi Cannatti
Daniel Cohen
Nicholas Erickson
Julian Korzeniowsky
Steven Krenn
Brooke Ley
Arnav Luthra
Nick Pourazima
Kayla Quinn
Joseph Santillo
Ty Van De Zande
Kaitlin Schaer
Dan Moore
Garrett Osborne

The students created this installation as an 11-part composition which spans the entirety of the Stove Room. As visitors walk along the path, they will experience the piece at their own pace, since each of the 11 parts is nestled in a different area of the room. The students have titled this work Kaleidoscope. The map/score for the piece is featured below:

Excerpts of the generative compositions can be previewed on SoundCloud:


This project was made possible through generous support by the CMU College of Fine Arts Dean's office, the CMU School of Music, and the CMU IDeATe program.  Special thanks to Jordyn Melino, Richard V. Piacentini, Jason Fabus, and Paul Widek for their support in making this work possible.