The WretchUp instrument I designed for Mouse On Mars is now finally available for everyone on the iOS App Store. The original idea came about when we discussed the landscape of iOS music apps and noticed a lack of apps that experimented with a certain lack of control, a risk associated with using them, but thereby gaining new ways of expression. We were searching for the freedom found in many physical instruments, where everything can go horribly wrong in the next moment, but the instrumentalist can start to learn and tame the instrument, gaining new ways of expression along the way. Think of string instruments, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, but also instruments like the STEIM Crackle Box.
WretchUp is not the answer to this quest, but it is intended as a step in that direction. The Pd patch leaned on the great Rjlib selection of high-level construction elements, which were modified to render what is essentially a feedback instrument built on two delay lines. The patch ran in RjDj on iOS, which is sadly no longer available on the App Store. To make the instrument more risky but also more rewarding to use, we added gyro control over the base octave and an additional filter at the output stage.
Peter Kirn and Oliver Greschke then took on the task of converting the original patch into an app, while also expanding it by adding a looper and the option to choose between continuous mic input or input on touch. The app remains simple, but can generate a nice variety of sounds, which in this case mostly means soundscapes beyond the safe, toned down sounds of typical iOS synthesizers. Forcing the musician to work for control, and also to work for getting any sound out of the app at all, is part of the idea. This can be seen as a hurdle at first, but when it is overcome, very small gestures with the instrument can make huge differences, serving as a basis for an individual development of distinctively different sound expressions.
In another video by SoundTestRoom, one of the early adopters, we find a very different use case with different results.
WretchUp is available on the App Store:
Article with more background info on CreateDigitalMusic.com
The European Research Network Sociology of the Arts held its 8th midterm conference at Cluj / Romania from September 4-6, 2014. I had the honor to present a paper on the current state and the outlook of research conducted within the GiantSteps research project, focusing on prospects and problems of so-called “musical expert agents” in creative processes. The paper discusses a situation where the availability of large amounts of data on artistic work facilitates new approaches in composition and sound creation. What are the expectations towards these new possibilities? Are artists looking forward to algorithmic “agents”, or will they disable them immediately?
ESA-Arts 2014 Conference Website
On Thursday, June 12, I will be part of a panel discussion on musical knowledge in technological innovation. The panel is part of the Sónar Festival 2014 in Barcelona. It is organized by the GiantSteps EU-funded research project (http://www.giantsteps-project.eu/), in which Native Instrument is involved as a consortium partner.
Panel website | Post at GiantSteps
I have a new track up on Soundcloud. This one is again making heavy use of the Maschine drum synths. The percussion sounds based on the modal banks in Reaktor works especially well when used harmonically.
The book publication of my dissertation “Locating Publics: Forms of Social Order in an Electronic Music Scene” is now available from Springer VS. The table of contents and a full sample chapter can be downloaded from here:
At this year’s MusicMakers Hacklab during Club Transmediale, we discuss how the concept of “the user” shapes how we think about future features and interfaces of creative instruments. How do we construct our notions of the musicians who will want to use our designs? Do the Hacklab participants follow radically different approaches than a company like Native Instruments?
Join the Conversation!
CDR Berlin will host a Maschine Special on October 10, offering a workshop session with a focus on the work and the thoughts behind Maschine Studio. I will get a chance to answer questions on the CDR stage. Afterwards, there will be a workshop with Mouse On Mars, and they will – among other things – talk about the WretchUp app I helped to put together, and which is nearing its release (finally!). Should be a nice evening with friends!
CDR Preamble with a short Q&A
Event website with registration