University of Sussex
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Multiparametric interfaces for fine-grained control of digital music

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posted on 2023-06-08, 12:29 authored by Chris KieferChris Kiefer
Digital technology provides a very powerful medium for musical creativity, and the way in which we interface and interact with computers has a huge bearing on our ability to realise our artistic aims. The standard input devices available for the control of digital music tools tend to afford a low quality of embodied control; they fail to realise our innate expressiveness and dexterity of motion. This thesis looks at ways of capturing more detailed and subtle motion for the control of computer music tools; it examines how this motion can be used to control music software, and evaluates musicians’ experience of using these systems. Two new musical controllers were created, based on a multiparametric paradigm where multiple, continuous, concurrent motion data streams are mapped to the control of musical parameters. The first controller, Phalanger, is a markerless video tracking system that enables the use of hand and finger motion for musical control. EchoFoam, the second system, is a malleable controller, operated through the manipulation of conductive foam. Both systems use machine learning techniques at the core of their functionality. These controllers are front ends to RECZ, a high-level mapping tool for multiparametric data streams. The development of these systems and the evaluation of musicians’ experience of their use constructs a detailed picture of multiparametric musical control. This work contributes to the developing intersection between the fields of computer music and human-computer interaction. The principal contributions are the two new musical controllers, and a set of guidelines for the design and use of multiparametric interfaces for the control of digital music. This work also acts as a case study of the application of HCI user experience evaluation methodology to musical interfaces. The results highlight important themes concerning multiparametric musical control. These include the use of metaphor and imagery, choreography and language creation, individual differences and uncontrol. They highlight how this style of interface can fit into the creative process, and advocate a pluralistic approach to the control of digital music tools where different input devices fit different creative scenarios.


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  • Informatics Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

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