Designing Interactive Musical Interfaces

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Just as language is a tool that shapes our thinking (Mithen 2005), so do musi- cal instruments shape our musicking (Small 1998). Technology-based musical instruments are also shaped by the “law of the instrument”—also known as Maslow’s hammer (Maslow 1966)—a human cognitive bias that yields over- reliance on familiar tools. For inventors, designers and hardware/software developers working in the field of interactive musical interfaces today, this bias typically leads to a focus on primarily electronic methods of prototyping that utilize sensors, actuators, analog/digital circuits, and programmable audio synthesis and effects techniques. Digital musical instruments (DMIs) inherit the best and worst aspects of today’s “hammer” of programmability. Com- mercial instruments reveal bias in the form of many presets that result in the various sounds for musicians to play with, and the tendency not to go beyond “common denominator” form factors for interaction (such as generic piano- style keyboards). As stimulating as such wide palettes of sounds may be both for designers and musicians initially, having so many choices can also lead to a paradox wherein people feel stymied by the open-ended process of creat- ing so many different genres of music with so few limits. Artistic materials, tools and ideas all interact and affect the human creative process in complex, layered networks of possibility (Dahlstedt 2012). However, designers may develop many prototypes at a surface level, rather than exploring each concept in more depth. Musicians may use the built-in factory presets instead of taking time to develop their own personal “voice” on an instrument. Psychologically, there is evidence that even from a young age, fewer prototypes that are each investigated more deeply may be better for musical play (Dauch et al. 2018). Exploring fewer tools more deeply is a helpful way of thinking about exploring different possibilities and affordances of new tools.
TitelDesigning Interactions for Music and Sound
RedaktørerMichael Filimowicz
Antal sider29
Publikationsdato18 apr. 2022
ISBN (Trykt)9780367691349
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781003140535
StatusUdgivet - 18 apr. 2022


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