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UNC Student Creates Music with Electronics and a Bowling Ball

Todd Swingle playing the bowling ball with his electronic music on video.

June 7, 2018

University of Northern Colorado doctoral music student Todd Swingle is an expert at playing a number of instruments including the piano, bass, percussion and more "non-traditional instruments," such as a bowling ball ... yes, a bowling ball.

Swingle won the Second Annual Arts Innovation Award for his original composition, Saturn-10 Split, that combines the unusual sounds from a bowling ball with the software Max/MSP/Jitter, which is a visual programming language for music and multimedia. The piece follows the journey as the bowling ball slowly rises away from the surface of Earth into the far reaches of space.

Swingle explains:

Above: UNC student Todd Swingle plays his composition Saturn-10 Split with a bowling ball and the program Max/MSP/Jitter.

Todd Swingle performing Saturn-10 Split

"If that bowling ball traveled out of our atmosphere and into the universe at a certain speed, what would it interact with? Throughout the piece, you’ll hear things like GPS coordinates, and as it travels, it gets farther and farther away from Earth. It encounters clouds and atmosphere, so you'll hear water droplets, and as it keeps going farther, it encounters ice from Pluto, radio waves we as humans broadcasted into space. It chronicles that journey as it leaves our atmosphere."

Watch Swingle play Saturn-10 Split and answer some questions about his music and non-traditional instruments:

Listen to the full, recorded version of Saturn-10 Split:

 Interested in learning how to play the piece? Download the sheet music for Saturn-10 Split.

Copyright © 2016 Swinging Music. All Rights Reserved. 

— Produced by Katie-Leigh Corder


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