Re: non-contact interactive music controller: pre-play authoring,

Richard Povall (
Wed, 06 May 1998 10:55:35 -0400

>Usually, in the conventional situation, we have either of the following two
>cases: (A) a musical composition is written by a composer, and a performer
>(who might also be the composer) subsequently plays it more or less exactly,
>of course allowing for expressivity of tempo, timbre, vibrato, etc. etc., but
>essentially the precise chord/scale note event structures and rhythmic
>structures are adhered too, OR, case (B) where a performer ALSO is the
>composer on the fly, as in flat-out and unpredictable improvisation.
>Our environment is similar and yet different, in that it actually BLENDS
>elements of both (A) AND (B) above. There IS a composing phase, some of which
>is conventional, but some of which is quite novel (as to the tools
>environments) and which lays out the "potentials" which subsequent
>performer(s) may "extract" via a quite large repertoire of permutations of
>possible sensor trigger event scenarios resulting from any imaginable body
>position and movements. This overall approach is not totally unique,
>GENERALLY speaking; much of the evolution of computer-assisted and body-
>sensor-interfaced performance works (including such pioneers as Mark Coniglio
>and MIT Media Lab among many others) are roughly similar in that aspect.

I think this is perhaps almost definitive. Without come combination of A
and B, the system is not really interactive, nor do the performers have any
real impact on the core of the piece. If only A is true, then any
interactivity is merely navigational (in the broadest sense of that word).
If only B is true, then this is really improvisation, with some inevitable
impact from the composer who provides the basic materials within the
environment. I would go as far as to say that, only if A and B are true,
do we have a genuine interactive environment with structural
(compositional) integrity.

Thanks for the great comments, really good stuff.


R i c h a r d P o v a l l
Assoc. Prof of Computer Music and New Media / Chair, TIMARA Dept.
MPO Box 0332 || TIMARA/Studio 5
Oberlin, OH 44074-0332 USA || Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Voice: +1.440.775.1016 || Oberlin College
Fax: +1.440.775.8942 || Oberlin, OH 44074 USA

====== ===== ====== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ======
The Dartmoor Project
High Moorland Business Centre, The Old Duchy Hotel, Princetown, Yelverton,
Devon, PL20 6QJ UK
Voice: +44.(0)1822.890539
Fax: +44.(0)1822.890566