Course Number: 60-439
This course introduces students to the theories, practices, aesthetics and communities surrounding the design, building and performance with hybrid interactive instruments. We espouse an expansive definition of the word instrument that includes "a device for the production of sound/music", as well as "a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered" (from merriam-webster.com. We study the process of translating gesture into another sensory medium (e.g. sound or light). Our approach to instrument design will depart from the double meaning embedded in the notion of composing instruments: first, consideration of instrument building as an act of composition; second, instruments that compose of their own right. While emphasis is placed on musical instruments, course work will also encompass instruments that produce light, image, movement, etc. This course unfolds in two phases: literature review and individualized projects. The first half of the course will introduce students to a wide range of existing examples from contemporary music and composition, installation art and human-computer-interaction. Students will study theoretical and computational frameworks for working with gesture in instrument design. Topics of interest include: gesture data acquisition, data analysis, and mapping gesture data to hybrid-software-hardware computational systems that generate sound/image/movement. We will investigate the software and hardware technologies underlying the design and fabrication of hybrid instruments with electronics, sensors, signal processing, digital fabrication. The second half of the course will allow teams of students to choose an area of specialization, design and fabricate a functioning instrument. The course culminates in an event where all students demonstrate their final instruments in a performance setting.
Fall 2014 instructor: Ali Momeni