The Weather Warlock turns sunshine, wind and rain into soothing drone music.
The Weather Warlock has sensors to detect changes in sunlight, wind, rain, and temperature, which are transmitted via copper wires to the synth in Quintron’s living room. The result is a wide range of tones and harmonics based around a consonant E major chord, with special audio events occurring during sunrise and sunset.
“The weather has so many elements that are constantly fluctuating all day, every day. My goal was to translate those into something we could actually hear — not just digital readouts on a weather station but actual sound changes,” Quintron explained to Slate. “If this were an orchestra, rain and wind would be the percussive elements and temperature provides the bass. Sunrise and sunset are the soloists.”
The first prototype of the base station was built on his front porch, but “literally sounded like the voices of hell,” he explains. “About two or three months into it I stumbled on the idea that this thing had to be pleasant to listen to because I was wanting it to be on all the time.” After some tinkering, he settled on tuning it to E major, which produced the meditative drone heard now. “I instantly calmed down and was better able to focus on the building when I had these nice sounds going, too,” he says.
Translating rain into sound was the hardest challenge. Instead of capturing the sound of rainfall with a microphone, he built electronic audio circuits to approximate those sounds and used the semi-conductivity of rain to turn LED lights on and off, triggering light sensors which then turn the sounds on and off.
The Weather Warlock is now streaming live on Weather for the Blind, and Quintron hopes to build more base stations around the world to offer a diverse range of climates. In the meantime he’s still tweaking the Weather Warlock: “I’m messing with it all day long. Tune in anytime and chances are you’ll hear me jamming.”
For more sexy synth action, check out FACT’s guide to the 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music.