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OFAI-TR-2005-15 ( 93kB PDF file)

The "Air Worm": An Interface for Real-Time Manipulation of Expressive Music Performance

Simon Dixon, Werner Goebl, Gerhard Widmer

Expressive performance of traditional Western music is a complex phenomenon which is mastered by few, and yet appreciated by many. In this paper we explore various ways of interacting with expressive performances using methods that are accessible to non-expert music-lovers. The key idea is that a non-expert cannot control the vast range of parameters which musicians use to create expression; they require a simple interface allowing control of a small number of parameters, where the remaining parameters are determined by expert performances. A digital theremin is used as an input device, and users can control the two most important expressive parameters, tempo and loudness, of an expressively performed audio or MIDI file. Several modes of operation are possible: the "Air Worm" builds on previous work in performance visualisation, where the tempo is displayed on the horizontal axis and loudness on the vertical axis in a two-dimensional animation; the "Air Tapper" uses a conducting metaphor where the beat is given by the minimum vertical point in a quasi-periodic trajectory; and the "Mouse Worm" allows users without a theremin to use the mouse as controller.

Keywords: Expressive performance, Interactive performance, Theremin

Citation: Proceedings of the 2005 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC2005), Barcelona, Spain, September 2005, pp 614-617.