Digital Musical Instruments

interfaces for live electronic music

Making digital musical instruments has been a part of my journey to find a new fragile musical space from within digital technology. I see a musical instrument as a portal into a sonic world and a faithful friend through hours, days and years of musical exploration. It is both a guiding voice and a humble servant. It builds community beyond language and provides a space for still meditation.

Neod

The neod uses a small amount of electricity to set free a musical idea that has fascinated thinkers, musicians and music theorists for thousands of years. It amplifies the tiniest movement. It extends the reach of the hands to let them touch very large and very small distances. It is a magical object that provides a physicality to a virtual mathematical world. It releases us from the hegemony of 12.

Scarda

Scarda is an audiovisual live performance interface specifically designed to explore the use of fragility as a metaphor in every aspect of an audiovisual performance. By exploring metaphors of balance and care-ful touch it opens new portals of interaction between the body and the computer systems conjuring up (or computing if you prefer) the sounds and visuals.

Octarion

The octarion was built as part of the thesis project for my BA in composition from the University of Gothenburg in 2017. It was designed to allow for fluid integration with acoustic instruments. Navigating a 2-dimensional timbral space using the tilt of the instrument and enabling microtonal intonation, variable amplitude and attack/release envelopes through individual controls, provides a difficult, but rich playing experience.

Watch the octarion on YouTube

Reverion

Not every DMI experiment has been successful and the reverion was one such experiment. I had high flying ideas for an arm mounted interface running standalone without a laptop using the bela platform. It would run a real-time waveshaping algorithm for sound synthesis as well as do live looping with variable tempo to continuously sync with other musicians. During the process of building the instrument several flaws appeared in my design and my goals were never fulfilled. I was however able to salvage ideas and parts for other projects; hopefully my intial goals will be made justice in future instruments. For the reverion all that remains is a rendition of the Swedish folk song Ack Värmeland du sköna:

Inspiring digital luthiers

Journeying into the creation of digital musical instruments I found a vibrant community of visionariy digital luthiers. Following their work has been a great source of inspiration to me. Do have a look at their work:

  • Palle Dahlstedt: Researcher and a former teacher of mine. Some of his interesting musical interfaces and performances are on his YouTube channel.
  • Onyx Ashanti: His long journey through 3D printed musical interfaces and different musical ideas have been a great inspiration. YouTube channel.
  • Andrew McPherson: The TouchKeys, the Bela platform and the DSP programming lectures on the Bela youtube channel, really fantastic stuff.
  • Nyle Steiner: A great digital luthier and altogether fascinating man. The documentary on his instruments and his life is well worth a watch : Nyle Steiner documentary.
  • ... of course all of the authors of NIME papers that are murmuring at the back of my mind