Caress: An Electro-acoustic Percussive Instrument for Caressing Sounds

Momeni, Ali

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper documents the development of Caress, an electroacoustic percussive instrument that blends drumming and audio synthesis in a small and portable form factor. Caress is an octophonic miniature drum-set for the fingertips that employs eight acoustically isolated piezo-microphones, coupled with eight independent signal chains that excite a unique resonance model with audio from the piezos. The hardware is designed to be robust and quickly reproducible (parametric design and machine fabrication), while the software aims to be light-weight (low-CPU requirements) and portable (multiple platforms, multiple computing architectures). Above all, the instrument aims for the level of control intimacy and tactile expressivity achieved by traditional acoustic percussive instruments, while leveraging real-time software synthesis and control to expand the sonic palette. This instrument as well as this document are dedicated to the memory of the late David Wessel, pioneering composer, performer, researcher, mentor and all-around Yoda of electroacoustic music.