Dimensionality and appropriation in digital music instrument design

Musicans play instruments in unexpected ways. SO they decided to build something and see what people did with it.
appropriation is a process in which a performer develops a working relationship with the instrument. This is exploitation or subversion of the design features of a technology (ie turntablism)
Appropriation is related to style. Appropriation is a very different way of working with something.
How does the design of the instrument effect style and appropriation?
they gave 10 musicians a highly constrained instruments to see if they got style diversity. They made a box with a speaker in it with a position and pressure speaker. the mapped timbre to pressure and pitch to movement. And a control group with only pitch.
People did some unexpected things, like tapping the box, putting the hand over the speaker and licking the sensor (ewww)
The users developed unconventional techniques because of and in spite of constraints
One desgree of freedom had more hidden affordances. The two agrees of freedom had only 2 additional variations and no additional affordances.
Users of the 1 degree of freedom group described it as a richer and more complex device which they had not fully explored. Users of the more complex instrument felt they had explored all options and were upset about pitch range.
The presenter beleives there is a cognitive bandwidth for appropriation. More built options limit exploration of hidden affordances.
This was a very information-rich presentation of a really interesting study.


Q: Is pitch so dominant that it skews everything? What if you did an instrument that did just timbre?
A: Nobody complained about loudness.
Q: If participants were all musicians, did their primary instrument effect their performance?
A: Some participants were NIMErs, others were acoustic players. They’re studying whether backgrounds effected perofrmance style.

Published by

Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

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