Recontextualizing the Multi-touch Surface

McGlynn, Patrick and Lazzarini, Victor and Delap, Gordon and Chen, Xiaoyu

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper contends that the development of expressive performance interfaces using multi-touch technology has been hindered by an over-reliance upon GUI paradigms. Despite offering rich and robust data output and multiple ways to interpret it, approaches towards using multi-touch technology in digit al musical inst rument design have been markedly conservative, showing a strong tendency towards modeling existing hardware. This not only negates many of the benefits of multi-touch technology but also creates specific difficulties in the context of live music performance. A case study of two other interface types that have seen considerable musical use –the XY pad and button grid –illustrates the manner in which the implicit characteristics of a device determine the conditions under which it will favorably perform. Accordingly, this paper proposes an alternative approach to multi-touch which emp hasizes the imp licit strengths of the technology and establishes a philosophy of design around them. Finally, we introduce two toolkits currently being used to assess the validity of this approach.