Material Embodiments of Electroacoustic Music: An Experimental Workshop Study

This paper reports on a workshop where participants produced physical mock-ups of musical interfaces directly after miming control of short electro-acoustic music pieces. Our goal was understanding how people envision and materialize their own sound-producing gestures into physical characteristics when designing NIMEs. During the workshop, 50 participants from four different creative backgrounds modeled more than 180 physical artifacts. Participants were filmed and interviewed for the later analysis of their different personal cognitive mappings.

Our initial hypothesis was that most of the physical mock-ups would be similar to the sound-producing objects that participants would identify in the musical pieces. Although a significant part of the artifacts clearly showed correlated design trajectories, our results indicate that a relevant number of participants intuitively decided to engineer alternative and non-correlated solutions emphasizing their personal design preferences. Therefore, in this paper, we present and discuss these results as well as their possible consequences and applications for designing novel musical interfaces.