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Conférence d'Andrew McPherson « Simplicity, Complexity and Subtlety in Digital Musical Instrument Design »

Le 24 mars 2016
De 14h00 à 16h00
Collège Doctoral Européen, 46 boulevard de la Victoire, 67000 Strasbourg, Tram B/C/E arrêt Observatoire, Tram C/E/F arrêt Observatoire, Auditorium, Entrée libre

     Conférence organisée par Nathalie HEROLD (membre du GREAM) dans le cadre du séminaire du CNSC (Campus Numérique des Systèmes Complexes), avec le soutien du GREAM, dans le cadre de la Journée d'études « L'interaction homme - machine en musique ». La conférence sera suivie d'une table ronde avec Pavlos ANTONIADIS (membre du GREAM), Frédéric BEVILACQUA (IRCAM), Nathalie HEROLD (membre du GREAM), Andrew McPHERSON (C4DM), Pierre MICHEL (membre du GREAM), et l'ensemble des participants.

     If music can be considered a complex system, what are the implications for the design of musical instruments? One major motivation for digital musical instrument design is to provide new creative and expressive possibilities for the performer. An open question is whether building more complex instruments will help support new levels of artistic expression.

     In the right hands, even the simplest of found objects can become tools for virtuosic performance, while many sophisticated digital instruments have yet to establish an enduring musical presence. Moreover, some of the most transformational uses of musical instruments, from jazz saxophone technique to electric guitar distortion to DJ turntable practice, have come from creative misuse of technology. Collectively, these phenomena suggest that the job of the digital instrument designer goes beyond simply providing the largest possible space of possibilities to the performer.

     This talk will examine several aspects of digital musical instrument design, including dimensionality of control, the creative importance of constraints and the phenomenon of appropriation, where a performer develops a personal working relationship with an instrument. The talk will consider instruments on both ends of the complexity spectrum, from an over-constrained digital instrument to a pair of augmented keyboards: the magnetic resonator piano, an electromagnetically-augmented acoustic piano, and the TouchKeys, an augmentation of the digital keyboard into a multi-touch control surface.

     Andrew McPherson suggests that the common thread running through each case is subtlety, an elusive and possibly subjective quality wherein the performer is able to communicate finely shaded differences in their creative intent. A simple instrument with sufficiently subtle control might nonetheless be able to produce complex music. The talk will conclude with a discussion of how subtlety might be further investigated and supported in future instrument designs.

     Andrew McPherson is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London. A composer and electrical engineer by training, he studied at MIT (M.Eng. 2005) and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. 2009) and spent a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Drexel University. His research focuses on augmented instruments, embedded hardware systems and the study of performer-instrument interaction. He is the creator of the magnetic resonator piano, an augmented acoustic piano which has used by more than 20 composers worldwide, and the TouchKeys multi-touch keyboard which has shipped to musicians worldwide through a 2013 Kickstarter campaign and 2015 production run. In 2016, his lab launched Bela, an ultra-low-latency embedded platform for creating musical instruments and interactive audio systems.

     La captation audiovisuelle de la conférence a été mise en ligne sur Audiovideocast et dans la galerie audiovisuelle du site du GREAM.

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