A Scale-Based Ontology of Musical Instrument Design

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: 339–349
  • Article Number: 48
  • PDF link

Abstract:

Subtlety and detail are fundamental to what makes musical instruments special, and worth dedicating a life's practice to, for designer, maker, player and listener alike. However, research into digital musical instrument (DMI) design tools and processes have so far mainly focused on high-level conceptual concerns and low-level technical abstractions, leaving subtlety and detail underexplored and undervalued. These nuances, and the processes they result from, cannot be fully articulated in words alone, yet they largely define an instrument's quality, and it is therefore important to understand how they come to be. We introduce a scale-based ontology that divides design details into three levels - macro, meso and micro - and we present a literature review of DMI design from the perspective of this ontology. Finally we extrapolate the ontology to consider its utility in broader contexts, and consider future directions.

Citation:

Jack Armitage, Thor Magnusson, and Andrew McPherson. 2023. A Scale-Based Ontology of Musical Instrument Design. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. DOI:

BibTeX Entry:

  @article{nime2023_48,
 abstract = {Subtlety and detail are fundamental to what makes musical instruments special, and worth dedicating a life's practice to, for designer, maker, player and listener alike. However, research into digital musical instrument (DMI) design tools and processes have so far mainly focused on high-level conceptual concerns and low-level technical abstractions, leaving subtlety and detail underexplored and undervalued.  These nuances, and the processes they result from, cannot be fully articulated in words alone, yet they largely define an instrument's quality, and it is therefore important to understand how they come to be. We introduce a scale-based ontology that divides design details into three levels - macro, meso and micro - and we present a literature review of DMI design from the perspective of this ontology. Finally we extrapolate the ontology to consider its utility in broader contexts, and consider future directions.},
 address = {Mexico City, Mexico},
 articleno = {48},
 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 = {11},
 pages = {339--349},
 title = {A Scale-Based Ontology of Musical Instrument Design},
 track = {Papers},
 url = {http://nime.org/proceedings/2023/nime2023_48.pdf},
 year = {2023}
}