Tangible Performance Management of Grid-based Laptop Orchestras

Beck, Stephen D. and Branton, Chris and Maddineni, Sharath

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

Laptop Orchestras (LOs) have recently become a very popular mode of musical expression. They engage groups ofperformers to use ordinary laptop computers as instrumentsand sound sources in the performance of specially createdmusic software. Perhaps the biggest challenge for LOs isthe distribution, management and control of software acrossheterogeneous collections of networked computers. Software must be stored and distributed from a central repository, but launched on individual laptops immediately beforeperformance. The GRENDL project leverages proven gridcomputing frameworks and approaches the Laptop Orchestra as a distributed computing platform for interactive computer music. This allows us to readily distribute softwareto each laptop in the orchestra depending on the laptop’sinternal configuration, its role in the composition, and theplayer assigned to that computer. Using the SAGA framework, GRENDL is able to distribute software and managesystem and application environments for each composition.Our latest version includes tangible control of the GRENDLenvironment for a more natural and familiar user experience.