Mapping Everyday Objects to Digital Materiality in The Wheel Quintet: Polytempic Music and Participatory Art

Lind, Anders and Nylén, Daniel

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

Digitalization has enabled material decoupling of sound from the physical devices traditionally used to conceive it. This paper reports an artistic exploration of novel mappings between everyday objects and digital sound. The Wheel Quintet—a novel musical instrument comprising four bicycle wheels and a skateboard—was created using off-the-shelf components and visual programming in Max/MSP. The use of everyday objects sought to enable people to quickly master the instrument, regardless of their musical backgrounds, and collectively create polytempic musical textures in a participatory art context. Applying an action research approach, the paper examines in detail two key cycles of planning, action, and analysis related to the instrument, involving an interactive museum exhibition open to the public and a concert hall performance conducted by an animated music notation system. Drawing on insights from the study, the paper contributes new knowledge concerning the creation and use of novel interfaces for music composition and performance enabled by digitalization.