Studying Subtle and Detailed Digital Lutherie: Motivational Contexts and Technical Needs

Jack Armitage, Thor Magnusson, and Andrew McPherson

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

  • Year: 2023
  • Location: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Track: Papers
  • Pages: 1–9
  • Article Number: 1
  • PDF link

Abstract:

Subtlety and detail are fundamental to what makes musical instruments special, but accounts of their development in digital lutherie have been constrained to ethnographies, in-the-wild studies, and personal reflections. Though insightful, these accounts are imprecise, incomparable, and inefficient for understanding how fluency with the subtle details of digital musical instruments (DMIs) develops. We have been designing DMI design probes and activities for closed and constrained observation of subtle and detailed DMI design, but in two previous studies these failed to motivate subtle and detailed responses. In this paper we report on our third attempt, where we designed a tuned percussion DMI and a hybrid handcraft tool for sculpting its sound using clay, and a one hour activity. Among 26 study participants were digital luthiers, violin luthiers and musicians, who all engaged with what we define as micro scale DMI design. We observed technical desires and needs for experiencing and comparing subtle details systematically, and also widely varying, subjective emotional and artistic relationships with detail in participants' own practices. We reflect on the contexts that motivate subtle and detailed digital lutherie, and discuss the implications for DMI design researchers and technologists for studying and supporting this aspect of DMI design and craft practice in future.

Citation:

Jack Armitage, Thor Magnusson, and Andrew McPherson. 2023. Studying Subtle and Detailed Digital Lutherie: Motivational Contexts and Technical Needs. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. DOI:

BibTeX Entry:

  @article{nime2023_1,
 abstract = {Subtlety and detail are fundamental to what makes musical instruments special, but accounts of their development in digital lutherie have been constrained to ethnographies, in-the-wild studies, and personal reflections. Though insightful, these accounts are imprecise, incomparable, and inefficient for understanding how fluency with the subtle details of digital musical instruments (DMIs) develops. We have been designing DMI design probes and activities for closed and constrained observation of subtle and detailed DMI design, but in two previous studies these failed to motivate subtle and detailed responses. In this paper we report on our third attempt, where we designed a tuned percussion DMI and a hybrid handcraft tool for sculpting its sound using clay, and a one hour activity. Among 26 study participants were digital luthiers, violin luthiers and musicians, who all engaged with what we define as micro scale DMI design. We observed technical desires and needs for experiencing and comparing subtle details systematically, and also widely varying, subjective emotional and artistic relationships with detail in participants' own practices. We reflect on the contexts that motivate subtle and detailed digital lutherie, and discuss the implications for DMI design researchers and technologists for studying and supporting this aspect of DMI design and craft practice in future.},
 address = {Mexico City, Mexico},
 articleno = {1},
 author = {Jack Armitage and Thor Magnusson and Andrew McPherson},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression},
 editor = {Miguel Ortiz and Adnan Marquez-Borbon},
 issn = {2220-4806},
 month = {May},
 numpages = {9},
 pages = {1--9},
 title = {Studying Subtle and Detailed Digital Lutherie: Motivational Contexts and Technical Needs},
 track = {Papers},
 url = {http://nime.org/proceedings/2023/nime2023_1.pdf},
 year = {2023}
}