Retaining pianistic virtuosity in #MIs: Exploring pre-existing gestural nuances for live sound modulation through a comparative study

Granieri, Niccolò; Dooley, James and Michailidis, Tychonas (2021). Retaining pianistic virtuosity in #MIs: Exploring pre-existing gestural nuances for live sound modulation through a comparative study. In: Hepworth-Sawyer, Russ; Paterson, Justin and Toulson, Rob eds. Innovation in Music: Future Opportunities. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on Reach, a keyboard-based gesture recognition system for live piano sound modulation, and the comparative user testing conducted to evaluate it. Reach is a system built using the Leap Motion Orion SDK, a custom C++ OSC mapper and a Pure Data environment. It provides control over the sound modulation of a live piano feed, taking advantage of pre-existing gestural nuances offering a touch-free experience to the pianist.
The user testing compared the Reach system with two commercially available keyboard-based systems for augmented live sound modulation: Seaboard and TouchKeys. The approach taken during the user tests is illustrated and test results are discussed. The results that emerged suggest an underlying importance of recognising and utilising the musician’s existing technique when designing Digital and Augmented Musical Instruments (#MIs), and the potential of reducing the requirement to learn additional instrumental technique. The comparative user testing discussed in this chapter is part of a larger research project that seeks to study and understand how a low degree of invasiveness in digital systems for live sound modulation can reduce the learning curve of new systems, allowing greater access to music making with technology.

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