Interface Design


The other week I finally got round to installing Pure Data on my new PC and decided it would be a good time to start a new project.

I’ve started working on a new set of instruments with a view to doing some live, improvised laptop performances.

As a side note I’ve actually been working in pd Vanilla, rather than the extended version. There is very little I miss, so will happily continue with this version, which I also understand to be the better maintained version too.

One of the tasks I have been grappling with this week is how best to map the parameters of the instrument to the midi controller I have set up. (An Akai LPD8)

If you consider a traditional synthesizer with keyboard interface, you press keys to trigger sounds, and use knobs to manipulate processing.

But I’m not sure this is the method of interaction I want for my instrument.

I’ve been thinking very hard about which aspects of the instrument I want control over – what affords me the greatest opportunity for expression and which are most useful in building an interesting and evolving piece.

This is made trickier when attempting to control multiple instruments in real time with a limited interface.

I’ve had to think deeply about the process of building a performance, and what instruments I will want to perform with at different stages of the performance.

I think I’m getting close to a point where I have a usable interface that affords me the control over the aspects I want – the next stage is to try some performances with the tool-set and learn what works and what needs to change.

One of the benefits of building my own tools is that I can easily change and adapt them between performances, either to improve the interface or to try out new approaches.

Will hopefully have some recordings to post in the next week or so, demonstrating where I’ve got to.


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