Why We Need More Control

Tage Skotvold is a music technology blogger who delves into the technical side of music creation, experimenting with new modes of producing or controlling audio output. He has assembled an interesting list of interfaces for musical expression, with a selection of YouTube videos that demonstrate their use.

Featured interfaces include Sonic City’s wearable controller jacket, Eric Singer’s entertaining sonic banana, and the futuristic-looking, very impressive ‘reactable’ from the music technology group of Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

Whilst I am always interested in new technologies and new means of musical expression, many of these are one-off experiments, and unlikely to ever emerge into the mainstream of music creation hardware (and of course, this is not their purpose). As technology itself advances, it will become ever easier for musicians to construct customised interfaces that suit their own individual needs and playing style. This is of particular importance to musicians who have physical disabilities which prevent them from playing more traditional instruments.

Perhaps the most famous device in the area of music therapy/accessibility is Soundbeam, which is brilliantly described as the ‘invisible, expanding keyboard in space’. It uses sensors to detect physical movement (calibrated to suit the performer), which triggers audio and/or video as desired. This can be a wonderfully liberating experience, and is being used to great effect by music therapists worldwide. If you have any sort of physical hindrance which you may have thought precluded you from creating music, then you should have a look at the soundbeam site and see some examples of how it can be used.

The Drake music project also have put the unit to good use, and more information can be found about their activities on their website, where they feature music and videos from musicians using a variety of ingenious techniques, including soundbeam and the group’s own E-scape software.

If you would like to find out more about the Drake project in Ireland, or get involved in some workshops, check out the Drake music project’s Irish site.


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