In this class students develop interactive music projects: pieces of music that are not linear, but rather offer multiple dimensions for listeners to explore ––on their phones in a crowded subway, at an abandoned factory in Palermo, back on their couches after a long day, or at a classical concert hall.
Students will take a project from concept to execution over several iterations, applying music production, interaction design, and creative coding tools and techniques. During the first half of the semester, they will gather references and create musical user paths and interactive studies to explore specific elements of their composition. This work will lead to the implementation of the midterm project: a functional, high-fidelity prototype. For their final projects, students will evaluate their midterm pieces from the perspectives of music, visual / tactile and interaction design, and refine them to produce an engaging piece of interactive music.
ICM or equivalent experience is required. Some experience in making or producing music will be useful, but is not required.
This section will be updated weekly with references, code examples and assignment details.
Introductions + music pieces
Class topics, context and approach
Group activity: design an interactive musical experience
1. Document your concept on a blog post containing:
2. Write a project prompt for yourself. You will use it to frame subsequent assignments, but it can evolve/change later. Submit it here.
Group activity presentations
Individual project prompts
Lecture: The elements of rhythm. The elements of melody
Music Teaching Tools: Rhythm and Melody. Try, compare, discuss
Music Making Tools: a brief introduction to Ableton Live
1. Fill in this poll re: software licenses (thank you!)
2. Teach yourself Ableton Live (if you are not already a user). I recommend following these lessons from Help / Help View:
3. Start working on your project:
1. Music Teaching Tools: Harmony. Make some music using the following:
2. Do a second pass on your musical user path exploring tools for manipulating harmony and timbre. For example:
3. Create additional, alternative user paths to illustrate the range of interaction experiences your project might offer. Start thinking of interactions: what user actions will determine which musical outcomes? What aspects of the music will evolve independently of user actions (if any)?
Submit your blog post here.
Lecture: Additive, Subtractive, FM Synthesis
Music Making Tools: demo by Aaron - Ableton's Operator
Lecture + Activities: Interaction Design.
Project updates, part II
1. Apply Verplank's IxD framework to your project - a second pass, after getting feedback from your partner in class. Remember you are not limited to just one metaphor, scenario, control, etc.
2. Place your project on the 7-axis dimension space diagram. What features are a priority to you? To your target audience? Feel free to change the number of axes and the dimension they represent.
3. Describe at least three feel/know/do cycles for your project. Be specific. Prototype at least two, and have someone else try it. Your prototype can take any form, including you acting as Wizard of Oz. Document your test and findings.
Submit your blog post here.
Class updates: guest speakers + music & math exhibition
Project updates: Billy, Aaron, Dana, Maya, Raaziq, Marcela
Lecture + Discussion: Design Principles and the problem of Mapping.
Video: Tom Zé performance with power tools, hack saws, and custom sampler.
1. Read the paper on mapping by Hunt et al
2. Use the worksheet to generate many potential mapping ideas for your project. A few notes:
3. Prototype three of the mappings from the worksheet (at least). You can use a MIDI Controller with Live, either a pre-built one from the ER or a custom-made one (with Arduino or Teensy). Have other people try your prototypes.
4. Optional: re-create the two-slider experiment described on the paper.
Submit a blog post including assignments 2, 3 and 4 here.
5. Fill in this form about the technology you are using for your midterm. You can also just drop the paper handout at my office.
Project updates: Tawania, Matthew, Yves, Kemi, Xiaotong, Nianqi, Chenhe
Discussion: a map of available tools
Applications: Art Installations. Guest speaker: Lea Bertucci
1. Midterm project: build a functional prototype of your project
2. Prepare a 5 - 8 minute presentation, including:
Survey: this class so far
Activity: final project planning
Activity: evaluation criteria
Project case: Little Dragon + Samsung
Tools: introduction to Max for Live
1. Review your midterm project presentation (see the "Midterm Project Documentation" list above), and make sure it is clear enough for your partner to read/watch through and evaluate. If you would like me to replace the presentation with a blog post, please send me an email with a link to it.
2. Write a critique of your partner's midterm project based on the criteria you came up with together. You can find their documentation under "Midterm Project Presentations" on this syllabus. Post your structured critique here.
3. Finish your Midterm to Final worksheets and post here.
Guest Speaker: Valentina Camacho, Senior UX Designer, Gallagher Design
Guest Speaker: Andreas Matt, Managing Director, IMAGINARY gGmbH
Activity: ideation workshop for La la lab, an Open Source exhibition on Music and Math
Project Updates II
p5.js + Tone.js tutorial: create a step sequencer, step by step.
Applications: Games. Guest speakers: Ross Wariner and Cody Uhler from Two Dots
1. Work on your final project and prepare for user testing - please read the guidelines below.
2. Sign up for a day to present your final project here.
3. Revisit our shared evaluation criteria spreadsheet. In the first sheet, under your name, mark the five criteria that you consider to be most important for the success of your project. You can rank them from 1 to 5 if you like. During your final presentation, your classmates will refer to the criteria you choose to give you feedback on your project.
Each of you will be a presenter for half of the class, and a tester for the other half. Please come prepared and follow these guidelines:
As a presenter:
As a tester:
Write a final blog post documenting your project for posterity (this will be linked above). Submit here.
In no particular order: