Solo Diary: Pick someone else’s patch/code from a previous workshop, put a new interface on it, and play something.

You’ve implicitly been building interfaces every week (every Pd patch is an interface, and so is even a piece of live code that you interact with during a performance). The field of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) is a whole thing with its own conference and everything.

This week we’ll think more specifically about what it means to design a good interface for a LENS instrument. In computing more generally, interface design (or UX, or Human-Computer Interaction) is a topic which many people have thought a lot about over many years. There’s even a course you can take on the subject.

Building on last week’s networks & collaboration workshop, we’ll think about how to control the computer music systems we’ve been building through interfaces of various types. You’ve already been doing this from your very first audiovisual diary entry, and most of you have explored Pd’s various bang/toggle/slider/radio/etc. objects. You can absolutely build an interface with those things, but this week you’ll need to think more deeply about what it actually means to design an interface for your patches.

Note: the “start with someone else’s work” aspect of this week’s provocation is super important; you shouldn’t have to spend any time this week doing the actual “sound generation” work, you should be exclusively thinking about new ways of controlling the synthesis infrastructure that’s already there.

Goals for this week

  1. experiment with new ways of controlling your sound

  2. think about what it means to make a new interface for musical expression

Resources

Creative Notes

  • what is an interface, exactly? thinking back over your previous Pd work (e.g. your AV Diary submissions), is each part of your patch equally “interface-y”? or are some parts of the patch more “interface-y” than others? was that a deliberate choice, or did it just work out that way?

  • can computer programs be interfaces? what does the “I” in API stand for?

  • imagine you’re not going to be the one playing your instrument/interface… what does expression or virtuosity look like? how have you tried to design for a low floor (easy to get started) and/or high ceiling (lots of room for mastery)? or do you have other design priorities?

  • since you’re starting with someone else’s work, think about what they might consider their patch’s interface to be? can you do something with their patch which might really surprise them?

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