Style and Constraint in Electronic Musical Instruments

Gurevich, Michael and Stapleton, Paul and Marquez-Borbon, Adnan

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

A qualitative study to investigate the development of stylein performance with a highly constrained musical instrument is described. A new one-button instrument was designed, with which several musicians were each asked topractice and develop a solo performance. Observations oftrends in attributes of these performances are detailed in relation to participants’ statements in structured interviews.Participants were observed to develop stylistic variationsboth within the domain of activities suggested by the constraint, and by discovering non-obvious techniques througha variety of strategies. Data suggest that stylistic variationsoccurred in spite of perceived constraint, but also becauseof perceived constraint. Furthermore, participants tendedto draw on unique experiences, approaches and perspectivesthat shaped individual performances.