Playful Musical Interfaces – Introducing The ‘Sound of Colour’

June 8, 2017
Mark Lochrie

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Authors: Jack Davenport, Mark Lochrie
Abstract: As technology and digital platforms evolve, the ways in which musical materials are integrated and interfaced are also developing. This has led professional and commercial music production companies to redesign said interfaces in novel ways that do not resemble the traditional chromatic keyboard layout.

For the purpose of this paper, the authors have defined these interfaces into three categories; professional, semi-professional and playful, which are demonstrated through musical platforms such as the ‘Ableton Push’ (professional), ‘ROLI Block’ (semi-professional) and ‘YOOP’ (playful). Each platform has its own unique elements of interaction that simplify the accessibility to musical composition, widening the demographic of users who are able to create and compose without necessarily having a traditional musical education.

This paper will discuss the development of a new interface called the ‘Sound Of Colour’, an interactive installation built in Max/MSP. Through a combination of real time image detection and user movement, participants can control and compose music with the sounds of rare world instruments. The ‘Sound Of Colour’ provides an interface away from traditional musical controllers or keyboards that allows participants to compose in an interactive and playful environment. It is the use of prime colours that allows the platform to monitor movements which are in turn mapped against a grid to control loops and audio samples.

Participants work collaboratively in an ensemble setting to produce a bespoke composition. The aim of this research project is to study the ways in which people interact with both physical hardware based controllers and sensory based interfaces in a musical composition environment.

Publication date: 30/11/2017