New Music Controllers

Workshop Date: 
Mon, 07/16/2012 - Fri, 07/20/2012

Edgar Berdahl, Wendy Ju                              
                                                                                                                     CCRMA Summer Workshop Main Page

 In this workshop, you will learn how to construct novel musical instruments and sound art objects using a friendly open-source open-hardware platform, which leverages the power offered by Arduino and the Beagle Board xM. By the end of the week, you will make an autonomous project that makes sound when you manipulate its sensors. We will mentor you in evaluating and further developing you ideas with the help of the Verplank physical interaction design (PID) framework. You will learn the philosophy and utility underlying the eight interrelated PID perspectives: idea, metaphor, model, display, error, scenario, task, and control.

Alongside physical interaction design, the workshop integrates programming, electronics, robotics, audio, and interactive music. Hands-on applications using sensors and embedded Linux in conjunction with real-time DSP will be explored for making music. Specific technologies will include Arduino platform, processing, Firmata, Pd, and the Beagle Board for music synthesis. The Beagle Board makes native floating point computations for audio, yet it is small enough to fit in a cigar box. Participants will learn how to use resistive, force-sensitive, capacitative, optical, ultrasound, magnetic, optical, and acceleration sensors. We will also teach students how to make their own sensors with custom geometries constructed out of materials such as conductive fabric, piezoresistive fabric, copper tape, and piezoelectrics. We will discuss popular controller components such as (multi-)touch screens, TacTex pads, Novint Falcons, FireFaders, and many more. Participants will design and build working prototypes using a kit* that can be taken home at the end of the workshop. Many prototypes will be applicable for performance and exhibits. Further issues to be explored will include modes and mappings in computer music, exercises in invention, and applications of sensors and electronics to real-time music. The course will be augmented by a survey of existing controllers and pieces of interactive music.   

This workshop is intended for
Musicians or composers interested in exploring new possibilities in interactive music in a hands on and technical way; Anyone looking to gain valuable skills in basic analog and digital electronics, with a focus on invention; OR Makers, engineers, computer scientists, or product designers interested in exploring artistic outlets for their talents and collaborating with performers and composers.  

Workshop structure:
 The workshop is an accelerated variant of the Music 250A course. The workshop will consist of half-day supervised lab sessions, and half-day lectures, classroom exercises and discussions. Classroom sessions will feature live demos and/or concerts of interactive music and instruments. Participants are encouraged (but by no means required) to bring their own laptop computers for creating their projects. However, each participant should bring a pair of headphones with 1/8" (2.54mm) audio connector. Windows users may prefer to install Cygwin in advance of the workshop, selecting the openssh, xinit, and the other "required" packages.

 There is a $20 lab fee included in the cost of this workshop. Participants have the option of purchasing a $250 lab kit at the end of the workshop. The kit contains a Beagle Board, an Arduino, a prototyping board, power supply, retractable USB cable, ethernet cable, set of nylon screws, and a variety of sensors. The Beagle Board runs our own special distribution of embedded Linux called Satellite CCRMA.