When asked what instrument I play I have for some years now responded, "I play the computer." For many my answer is perplexing and often provokes something like "I understand you use the computer to make music, but you don't really play it like a real instrument."

In will give an overview of the design space for musical instruments that exploit computation. Key interaction design criteria suggest that they should be bodily engaging, musically inspiring, afford exploration, and have a low-entry investment with no limit on virtuosity. A range of gestural interactions with sound and musical material are possible, from high control intimacy and repeatability of response on the one hand to an interactive negotiation model on the other. Along the way I hope to make some general observations about gestural interaction with media.

David Wessel is Professor of Music and co-directs the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies. His research interests include musical applications of computation, music perception and cognition, and performance practice for computer-based instruments. He performs regularly with a variety of improvisors including Roscoe Mitchell, Frank Gratkowski, Nils Bultmann, and Myra Melford among others. His recordings appear on RogueArt , Mutable Music, Wergo, and JVC. The most recent release is Contact on RogueArt, a DVD and CD combination consisting of duo's with Roscoe Mitchell.


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Thursday, November 19, 2009, 8:30pm to 9:30pm