The Acoustic, the Digital and the Body : A Survey on Musical Instruments

Magnusson, Thor and Mendieta, Enrike H.

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper reports on a survey conducted in the autumn of 2006 with the objective to understand people’s relationship to their musical tools. The survey focused on the question of embodiment and its different modalities in the fields of acoustic and digital instruments. The questions of control, instrumental entropy, limitations and creativity were addressed in relation to people’s activities of playing, creating or modifying their instruments. The approach used in the survey was phenomenological, i.e. we were concerned with the experience of playing, composing for and designing digital or acoustic instruments. At the time of analysis, we had 209 replies from musicians, composers, engineers, designers, artists and others interested in this topic. The survey was mainly aimed at instrumentalists and people who create their own instruments or compositions in flexible audio programming environments such as SuperCollider, Pure Data, ChucK, Max/MSP, CSound, etc.