Paper Note creates a tangible waveform from laser cut disks of paper. The user records a message, a sound or loads up music, and the system analyses the sound to map each moment to a corresponding slice.

This project was made with Andrew Nip at CIID. We programmed it using Processing. Each Paper Note is made up of around 450 stacked disks of paper. The louder the volume at a specific moment, the bigger the disk. Our algorithm samples the right amount of information from the recording to scale the physical waveform to the size of around 14cm.

Special thanks to David Gauthier, Joshua Noble and Marcin Ignac for their help with the code.

37 Responses to “Paper Note ~ A Tangible Paper Waveform {+ generative}”  

  1. 1 ro

    Buenisimo!!! Gracias! Ro

  2. 2 dale jeevanantham

    It would be cool if there was a wave form reader. You know so if i received a message I could use something to play it back to me?

  3. 3 Mathias Bruessel

    Very cool!

  4. 4 Tod Robbins

    What a fabulous idea! The end result is striking.

  5. 5 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks so much for the kind words, Tod.

  6. 6 Andrew Spitz

    Hi Dale, that’s for the future… with more time πŸ˜‰

  7. 7 Luigi

    That was really cool man! What a creative project idea!

  8. 8 Chester

    Awesome!! Will you be making this program public, so I can cut out a waveform on my laser cutter? Such a great idea!

  9. 9 Antonio

    ..Felicitaciones por tu creaciΓ³n.
    Es como poder tocar lo que se suena en el espacio.

  10. 10 almer

    Nice project!

    but there are a lot of similarities with Fernando Brizio’s 2003 Sound System project

  11. 11 Daniel

    This is really awesome guys, shout out to for finding you.

    Serious question, is the software available? i’m asking because i have a simple idea to use this and say something like “i love you” to my dear girlfriend and present it to her in paper waveform as gift. Please reply, if it’s just a no, that would do πŸ™‚

  12. 12 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks all for the nice comments!

  13. 13 Andrew Spitz

    @Almer, thanks for pointing out to his work. Looks super! indeed it’s similar but only by coincidence πŸ™‚

    @Daniel, lovely thing to give to your girlfriend! Actually, one of the Paper Notes seen here is a message to the wife of Andrew Nip saying how much he loves her πŸ˜‰

    @Daniel (again) & @Chester, regarding sharing the code. There’s two reasons for not sharing it right now, although we are big on open source, we are wanting to push it a little further before sharing. And also, there some pretty user-unfriendly hiccups that we’d have to iron out before we can share it as we did this project in 3 days (concept to finish). That said, if you email me, and send me a recording, we can give you the file to laser cut. You’ll have to give us a bit of time though as we’re in the middle of the next project.

  14. 14 Tnim

    I’d buy if priced appropriately. Anything for sale yet?

  15. 15 Andrew Spitz

    Not quite yet, but maybe in the future… Thanks for the interest!

  16. 16 Yann Seznec

    Cool stuff Andrew! Now you just need to do one for spectral analysis πŸ™‚

  17. 17 leo saraza

    cool!!!!…….. i love it……..thanks for the knowledge!!!

  18. 18 Leslie

    I loved the project, it is really awesome. I would love to have the paper waveform of a song I love but I’ve read that you aren’t sharing the code yet. Is it possible that I send you the song and you send me the file for the laser cut please?

  19. 19 Andrew Spitz

    Hey Leslie, glad you like the project! The code needs serious attention that we can’t give now, and it’s been almost a year so not even sure where to begin. Just to put in context, it’s a project we hacked together super quickly (in two days) so it’s super messy and hackie and all over the show :-/ We’re seriously considering fixing it all up at some point, but its way in the back-burner as I’m working full time on an app for the next few months. Sorry!

  20. 20 Jack

    Hi Andrews!

    I’m Jack, a Uni student from Sydney Australia. I’m currently working on a project focusing on the sonofication and visualation of data. I’m doing alot of work in processing sketching ideas, and I see the other responses you’ve given here, but was just wondering if you could share the code (as glitchy as it may be) for me to manipulate and work on. As an upside if I polish and finish the code, it would mean you don’t have to.

    Let me know πŸ™‚


  21. 21 Jane Pernille


    I have access to a lasser cutter and would love to try this out. Could you guys maybe make a mailing list for those eager to see/hear more in case something more happens?

    – P

  22. 22 Andrew Spitz

    Hey Jane! Thanks for the interest in Paper Note πŸ™‚ I’m keeping a list of people, so if/when this happens I’ll email you!

  23. 23 Stefano C

    Hello! I’m a fashion student from London UK. I love this project and I’m currently working on my final year collection. I was thinking of featuring sound and fashion in garments, and this could be an amazing idea for a print or embroidery. Please let me know if you’ll develop an app or something like that, as it would be amazing for my project!
    Many thanks in advance


  24. 24 Andrew Spitz

    Hey Stefano, that’s a great idea! Unfortunately I’m not planning on doing so. Sorry. please let me now when you’re done with your collection, would love to see it. Cheers!

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  3. 3 Voice Messages Become 3D Paper Waveform Sculptures: Paper Note | Dorchase
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  5. 5 Mururoar » Paper Note: Waveforms in 3D… aus Papier
  6. 6 “Paper Note” A Tangible Paper Waveform | Spreading The Idea
  7. 7 Paper Note – A Tangible Paper Waveform with Processing | strictlypaper
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  11. 11 Paper Note by Andrew Nip & Andrew Spitz | le fantΓ΄me entre nous
  12. 12 보고 λ§Œμ§€λŠ” μ†Œλ¦¬, Tangible Sound | Trend Insight :: λ§ˆμ΄ν¬λ‘œνŠΈλ Œλ“œλΆ€ν„° μ–»λŠ” λ§ˆμΌ€νŒ…, λΉ„μ¦ˆλ‹ˆμŠ€(사업) 아이디어
  13. 13 보고 λ§Œμ§€λŠ” μ†Œλ¦¬, Tangible Sound | Trend Insight :: λ§ˆμ΄ν¬λ‘œνŠΈλ Œλ“œλΆ€ν„° μ–»λŠ” λ§ˆμΌ€νŒ…, λΉ„μ¦ˆλ‹ˆμŠ€(사업) 아이디어

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