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NIME 2007

Report NIME 2007

So Taku and myself went to NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression), this year in New York. The conference started on Wednesday with 2 workshops at Harvestworks, one on sensorinterface technology, very much like the sensorinterface expertsession STEIM organized during the jamboree in Dec 2006, with icubeX, eobody2, arduino, etc. Unfortunately this workshop was so crowded that I couldn't get in.... They obviously hadn't expected so many people. The afternoon workshop was on robotics - I didn't register for that one.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday the program was pretty full: paper presentations in the morning, until about 13h, then a keynote, then demo's and posters (more informal). Around 18:30h the 'serious' concerts started, and finally at 21h the 'club' concerts in a different venue. Practically it was impossible to attend everything (one also has to eat, right?).

Some interesting paper presentations (with my (rough) notes during the session):

  • PHYSMISM: A control interface for creative exploration of physical models by Niels Boettcher (collaboration with Steven Gelineck, Stefania Serafin).
    interested in creating new sounds, for 'creative' people and not just for scientists - using many different models, replica models (existing instruments), extended models (unusual sizes etc), hybrids, physical interface, unusual interface, really a musical focus - physical interface with crank controller (for particles), drum pads, flute like tube with rotating propellor, patchbay to combine different models and sequencer
  • A Force Sensitive Multi-touch Array Supporting Multiple 2-D Control Structures / David Wessel (collaboration with Rimas Avizienis Avizienis, Matthew Wright).
    versapad: small XY-pressure pads - brick pattern layout multiple pads - Xilinx FPGA (software circuit design) - interface uses 72 channels of audio - aggregate audio device - custom ethernet driver to read all 72 channels of audio and present it as inputs to maxmsp - the message: use audio rate and in the software tune it - and it's amazing to see David Wessel turn into a musician the moment he puts his hands on the instrument...
  • Zstretch: A Stretchy Fabric Music Controller / Angela Chang (collaboration with Hiroshi Ishii, Joe Paradiso).
    haptic feedback is important - electronics should be out of the way - stretching fabric to send controller data - using arduino / pd - square piece of fabric in a frame - can this also be formed to wear? or a more ergonomic form? - using the wind to control musical data
  • Don’t Forget the Laptop: Using Native Input Capabilities for Expressive Musical Control / Rebecca Fiebrink, Ge Wang, Perry Cook
    S.M.E.L.T. laptop jams - focus on laptop groups - using the standard input devices musically - trackpad to 'bow' a sound playing from a key
  • HandSketch Bi-Manual Controller: Investigation on Expressive Control Issues of an Augmented... Nicolas D'Alessandro, Thierry Dutoit
    a big wacom tablet put on the side and played like strumming guitarstrings - added pressure sensors for the other hand - too bad the music was very focussed on note material, focus on quantization and such - generally the Wacom tablet seems to have a big appeal to the scene: quite some papers and demo's dealt with them

Some interesting 'club' concerts:

  • Hans Tammen - Endangered guitar - this was the first performance that really rocked, using the guitar as soundsource, and having some infrared sensors to control the sound.
  • 1-bit music ( - live soldering - exciting, more as a game, but nontheless
  • Nick Collins vs. Nic Collins - live coding vs live soldering - very funny
  • Graycode (Butch Rovan, Kevin Patton, Fred Kennedy) - around 2.30AM, there were only few people left to witness this rocking trio, with Rovan playing his electrified clarinet

One thing really surprised me participating in the NIME conference in NYC this summer, and that is the lack of really good musical applications of all the presented technology. I guess NIME is mainly about technology, but I was expecting more interesting performances during the organized concerts. There were some positive exceptions, but in general the music presented was mainly a demonstration of the technology.

All in all, an interesting experience. Not in the least because of the good food ;)

More info: Blog Flickr.