Addressing the variability and extent of gestural expression and hand movement capabilities of individual performers in musical instrument design
Axel Mulder, School of Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University,
© Copyright 1996 Leonardo/ISAST. All rights
A full copy of this paper can be found in Leonardo Music Journal 6
This paper discusses the design of musical instruments that address the variability and extent of gestural expression and movement capabilities of individual performers. Existing musical instruments, including almost all alternate controllers, due to movement tracking limitations, require the performer to adapt to the instrument, even though a number of different movements may be selected to effectuate a change in the sound or music. To improve performer--instrument compatibility, or control intimacy, the musical instrument designer must not only use different representations of musical performance but also use them consistently. Different forms of hand movements are examined to establish the range of bodily expression that needs to be accomodated. The analysis leads to new forms of musical performance such as sound sculpting and active listening. It also leads to the definition of GRIP instruments which allow a performer to reconfigure the instrument to accommodate gestural preferences and/or capabilities independent of the acoustical output or performed musical work. Alternatively, such an instrument allows performers to gradually expand and personalize their gestural "vocabulary" without losing acquired motor skills and therefore gradually add nuances to their performances without needing to adapt to the instrument.