By looking at the design of digital musical instruments through the discipline of string puppetry, the Electroacoustic Marionette is meant to uncover new approaches to sound synthesis and gestural mapping. In this report I will describe the approach taken in developing an early prototype of this instrument, including the early hardware prototype, sound synthesis algorithm, and mapping between the two.
Unlike acoustic musical instruments, whose design and functionality are constrained by the physical nature of sound and the instruments’ construction, digital musical instruments (DMIs) can take any form and produce any sound (Magnusson 2010). For a designer and maker of DMIs, this poses the problem of deciding what form new instruments should take (the construction of an interface), what sounds they should produce (the choice or design of sound and/or music synthesis algorithms), and how the interface relates to the sounds (the mapping) (Nort et al. Read on
The most widespread interface for playing electronic music is probably the piano keyboard. While this is fine for playing music which is built up from notes, it is clear that the keyboard is radically inadequate for the performance of electroacoustic music which, as Dennis Smalley notes, embraces the musical nature of all sounds, and their spectral evolution over time. With a keyboard, spectral evolution is not possible; once a key is down nothing can be done to change the sound. Smalley observes that traditional instruments “were conceived and developed for an harmonic music… The future of live performance must lie with new instruments” (1986).
This is a composition using only sounds from the Doepfer Modular system. Early electronic music appropriated lab equipment designed for physics and psychology experiments and turned it toward artistic ends. Over the years, the essential tools for analog electronic synthesis have largely remained the same: there are sources, and there are processors. What has changed is the tools have gotten smaller and more affordable, so that more musicians than ever can build complex electronic instruments from reconfigurable modules.
A piece in three movements, “Tuesday Lab Experiments” represents my exploration of some of the sonic possibilities of analog modular synthesis. In each one of the three movements, entitled Spectral Glow, Dance, and Storm, I navigate the sounds of the Doepfer modular system. Read on
This has been the most ambitious project I’ve undertaken in this genre; I’ve used the software at my disposal more during this assignment than ever before. All of the effects and techniques that I hear below, I discovered while composing. I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about the possibilities of some of the software I own, but I know that there’s going to plenty more assignments to follow and stretch my knowledge further.
I spent most of the composition process building the individual sound objects — I made about twenty, and I had a difficult time piecing them together into a single composition. Read on
The source material for this assignment was any spoken passage (I recorded a short excerpt from “I Get a Hit“), from which only the unvoicedconsonants were allowed. The only processing allowed for this project was cut, copy, paste, and changing the amplitude. With these processes, a somewhat surprising variety of effects are possible.
At first, I experimented mostly with pasting whole consonant sounds, and ordering them to make rhythmic motives. However, I quickly realized that, by taking a very small section of any given sound and pasting it repeatedly, it would make a buzzing tone with a perceptible pitch. Read on
I was privileged to be a part of the Ink Spot SLAM! Team from Calgary. Beside my teammates, I competed in Canada’s national festival of spoken word. This poem, How to Write a Song in 10 Easy Steps, is autobiographical.