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Tuesday, June 5 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Paper 6.4

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Crafting Digital Musical Instruments: An Exploratory Workshop Study
by Jack Armitage & Andrew P. McPherson

For the creators of musical instruments, symbolic and embodied media encourage different ways of thinking; typically circuitry and code reward top-down explication, whereas physical materials reward bottom-up exploration. In seeking the best of both, many computational design media are constrained by the goal of integrating these ways of thinking. Achieving this integration often involves a trade off between working with functional prototypes, and maintaining the openness of the design space. In this work we propose that embodied craft practice with functional prototypes can nurture bottom-up ways of working to inspire new computational design media. To begin investigating this idea, we designed a craft workshop for 20 musical instrument designers. Groups were given the same `unfinished' instrument to craft for one hour with raw materials, and though the task was open ended they were prompted to focus on subtle details that might distinguish their instruments. Despite the prompt the groups diverged dramatically in intent and style, and generated gestural language rapidly and flexibly. The workshop outcomes support the idea that this approach encourages bottom-up process, subjective reinterpretation and diverse collaborative process. We discuss how this approach compliments and can act as a reference for computational design media.

Speakers
avatar for Jack Armitage

Jack Armitage

PhD student, Augmented Instruments Lab, C4DM, QMUL
Jack Armitage is a PhD student in the Augmented Instruments Lab, Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London. His topic is on supporting craft in digital musical instrument design, supervised by Dr. Andrew McPherson.
avatar for Andrew McPherson

Andrew McPherson

Reader, Queen Mary University of London|London||United Kingdom


Attendees (6)