Head Music is made of actuator-arm assemblies removed from old computer hard drives. On the tips of the arms are the read/write heads between which drive platters normally spin. In order to position the heads on the platters a voice-coil actuation system is used; coils of wire on the wider ends of the arms are suspended within strong magnetic fields created by permanent magnets.

When the coils are energized they create secondary magnetic fields which interact with the primary fields to move the arms. By sending audio signals through the coils, the actuator-arms move fast enough to produce high-fidelity sound. The arm-assemblies are sitting atop hollow resonant boxes made of guitar plywood in order to amplify the sound, and the lights flicker in response to the audio signal. The eight boxes are used as a multi-channel speaker array and controlled by a computer program that pans the sound and plays samples of birds taken from a database of cinematic sound effects.

Head Music has been installed at the 2007 Terrabyte 2.0 event, the 2007 Hawktronics of L.A. event, the 2007 Los Angeles Bent Festival, the 2009 UCSD Spring Music Festival, and at California Institute of the Arts during 2006.


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