A Critical Analysis of Synthesizer User Interfaces for Timbre

Seago, Allan; Holland, Simon and Mulholland, Paul (2004). A Critical Analysis of Synthesizer User Interfaces for Timbre. In: Dearden, Andy and Watt, Leon eds. Proceedings of the XVIII British HCI Group Annual Conference HCI 2004, Volume 2. Bristol, UK: Research Press International, pp. 105–108.


In this paper, we review and analyse categories of user interface used in hardware and software electronic music synthesizers. Problems with the user specification and modification of timbre are discussed. Three principal types of user interface for controlling timbre are distinguished. A problem common to all three categories is identified: that the core language of each category has no well-defined mapping onto the task languages of subjective timbre categories as used by musicians.

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