The practical seminar “Experimental Mapping of Sensory Data” focused on a body-centred perspective on music software. The aim was to work on a short performance in which a digital sound process was conceived, developed and played with self-configured interfaces. In contrast to the work in the recording studio, the focus here was not on the finished sound result, but on improvising with the instrumental potential of a configuration (for example, from software and interfaces such as smartphones, MIDI controllers and contact microphones). The results were presented in July 2022 in a public concert in Leuphana’s ASta living room. The video and text documentation of the projects can be seen here.
Cello Con Echo
von Sara Kanarski & Alisha Kadiatou Coné
The underlying task of the individual seminar projects was to use specific tools to create an experimental sound concept, which we were then to present in the format of an improvised performance. The most important tools to be used were (contact) microphones, the MIDI mapping of different effects with the help of controllers and the use of one’s own smartphone, as well as the sensory data it generates with the help of an OSC app and the matching OSC tool in Ableton. The performance was to incorporate these tools and in a way be a planned improvisation. Before coming together as a team, we both worked individually on our projects and setups, but always realised that we had similar, even complementary visions of our setups and performances. We both had the desire to work with common instruments, but to alienate them on a sonic level as well as on a level of use, or to take them out of their usual context. In addition, there was the desire to perceive the human voice as an instrument and to work with it. We wanted to use all the tools that were shown to us in the seminar, but we quickly realised that this would go beyond the scope. Here it was especially helpful to work in pairs, as this gave us the opportunity to use more tools and at the same time to engage with them more intensively. Alisha’s set-up, which had a special focus on working with her voice, consisted of a Korg controller (NanoKontrol), a microphone with microphone stand and pop shield and the laptop with the digital audio workstation Ableton. The basic vision behind the setup was to be able to create either very spherical and wind-like sounds or percussive noises.
Dialog im Monolog
von Jonas Riedel
The trumpet is a handy instrument. In the best case, the bell points towards the audience to ensure the best sound for them. As a player, the sound can be focused in all directions. I use this characteristic to make the instrument, digitally augmented, a dialogue partner. At the beginning of the performance, a phrase is played into an endless reverberation chamber, the volume of which is rhythmically modulated. This phrase serves as both a harmonic and rhythmic basis for the rest of the performance. Through different rotation and tilt axes, I can in turn enter into dialogue with the reverb chamber and modulate it while improvising new phrases and ideas over it. This way, the reverb aspect can be emphasised, the original phrase can only be heard modulated or the sound can be limited by a low-pass filter. Later on, the trumpet is also used as a control for a digital synthesiser that plays continuous eighth notes. The tilt axis of the trumpet determines the pitch of the notes here. In this performance, the trumpet as an acoustic instrument becomes a sound generator not only through the way it is played, but also through the direction in which it is played, thus adding another dimension to the usual possibilities of expression.
Mon Espace Intérieur de Tranquilité
von Laura Großmann & Elisabeth Klingenberg
Our performance deals with processes of our own mental space, with inner dialogues, outer impulses and the field of tension between rest and stimulation in which we move in every moment. At the beginning of our project was the idea of “inner space/inner dialogue” and consequently the question of how this could be realised sonically and creatively. A sound starting point was provided by a voice sample “Mon espace intérieur de tranquilité” (my inner space of silence). On a metaphorical level, the concept of space can be experienced in four dimensions in our performance.
von Mika Steffan
Regarding the background of the development of “Die Felge”, it is worth mentioning that I have frequently recorded field recordings of bicycles in recent years and incorporated them into productions. I am fascinated by the versatility of the sounds that can be produced by the different materials used. I was also fascinated by the possibilities that a contact microphone offers to record the sound of an object even closer and more true to the original, and then to alienate it. These inspirations gave rise to the idea for my bicycle rim instrument. In initial experiments, the smartphone was attached to the rim, which in turn was suspended by its axle from a microphone stand and then tried to set it in motion. However, the construction quickly proved to be too fragile, as the smartphone caused imbalances so that the person making music would always have to hold the rim on the axle with one hand. Instead, the axle was extended with a piece of tube so that it can be held comfortably and with enough control on the tube and set in motion with the other hand.
Das Rad Neu Erfinden
von Marthe Mannott
The original idea and goal for the project was to work with the motion sensor data of a smartphone, which would be the main interface between the instrument and the musician and would be supplemented by a conventional midi controller, in this case a Korg nanoKontrol2. However, the smartphone was not to be the object with which the musician interacted, but was to be integrated into an everyday object with distinctive acoustic properties that represented the “instrument”. The idea here was, on the one hand, that working with movement-sensory data would enable the instrument to be played as intuitively and creatively as possible, and that the physical and mechanical properties of the everyday object in question would enable or impede the input of some movements, thus suggesting a number of specific ways of playing. Another idea was that the typical sound characteristics associated with the everyday object offer interesting musical as well as conceptual possibilities. On the one hand, of course, the sounds of the object produced while playing can be picked up with a microphone and used as the basis for the sound production of the instrument. On the other hand, the association of an object with specific sound properties allows a play with these in the conception of the instrument. Thus, the expectations created in the audience when they see the object can be fulfilled, e.g. by miking the object, but also broken with, e.g. when the object is only part of the interface and the actual sound production takes place based on samples or sound synthesis and produces sounds that deviate strongly from the sounds associated with the object. What would happen, for example, if instead of percussive sounds, a few pieces of wood suddenly produced flat or very atmospheric sounds? In the development process, the choice of everyday object quickly fell on a bicycle rim because it fulfils the characteristics just mentioned: Various ways of moving a rim are conceivable, but the most intuitive is to make it turn. If the rim rotates fast enough, the rotating mass develops clearly perceptible inertial forces and one tries to move it in a different way, which could possibly imbue the instrument with an interesting life of its own. Furthermore, bicycle rims are associated with bicycles and these in turn with a series of very distinctive sounds: Brake squeal, tyres on asphalt, the rattle of gears, chains and idling mechanisms. In initial experiments, the smartphone was fixed in the rim, which in turn was suspended by its axle from a microphone stand and then tried to set it in motion. However, the construction quickly proved to be too fragile, as the smartphone caused imbalances so that the person playing music would always have to hold the rim on the axle with one hand. Instead, the axle was extended with a piece of tube so that it can be held comfortably and with enough control on the tube and set in motion with the other hand.
Documentation of the practical projects from the seminar: Improvisation, Sound Design, Interfaces: Experimental Mapping of Sensory Data
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Lecturer: Andi Otto