Adaptive Physical Interfaces for Digital Music


During the Summer of 2007, Dr. Youngmoo Kim and Patrick Richardson attended the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference in NY, NY. Mr. Richardson attended lectures, poster sessions, demonstrations, and concerts, all of which showcased new approaches tools and ideas for musical interfacing. This conferences inspired him to research and develop new instruments, interfaces, and programs to control digital sound for musical applications.

While at NIME, he also compiled photos, video, and writings for this report on the conference for Peter Kirn at

Present Development:

  • Electronic Cymbal interface

At NIME 2007, Dr. Kim introduced Mr. Richardson to Roberto Aimi , and shared his his thesis work developing digital percussion interfaces using real-time convolution of drum samples. In these interfaces, real instruments (drums and cymbals) are damped and played, and the damped impulses are used for for sound manipulation through convolution. Mr. Richardson has chosen to study and re-create both the hardware and the software of these designs for the MET-lab.

...a screen-shot of the convolver GUI within my PureData patch

Like Aimi's design, all programming and signal management is done in PureData (PD). In the MET-lab version, however, the damping and piezoelectric pickup hardware will be totally removable. In this way, a cymbal does not need to be committed to this interface, can easily be removed, and exchanged for other cymbals with different sounds and articulation. Also, the MET-lab's design of Mr. Aimi's work will feature an explicitly modular interface. Since nothing will be permantly glued or joined, it will allow any and all of the pars of the drum instrument to be non-destructively interchangeable. Also, the configuration and signal flow of the percussion sensor can be reconstructed according to the needs of the end-user/player.

a screen-shot of the PureData patching/programming...

Future Design goals:

  • physical instrument interfaces adaptive to physical disabilities
  • digital music programs adapted for students with mental/learning disabilities
  • percussion instrument identification, based on spectrum and transients

...PureData patching/programming for a touch-sensitive sound program...