NIME Identity from the Performer’s Perspective

Morreale, Fabio and McPherson, Andrew P. and Wanderley, Marcelo

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

The term ‘NIME’ — New Interfaces for Musical Expression — has come to signify both technical and cultural characteristics. Not all new musical instruments are NIMEs, and not all NIMEs are defined as such for the sole ephemeral condition of being new. So, what are the typical characteristics of NIMEs and what are their roles in performers’ practice? Is there a typical NIME repertoire? This paper aims to address these questions with a bottom up approach. We reflect on the answers of 78 NIME performers to an online questionnaire discussing their performance experience with NIMEs. The results of our investigation explore the role of NIMEs in the performers’ practice and identify the values that are common among performers. We find that most NIMEs are viewed as exploratory tools created by and for performers, and that they are constantly in development and almost in no occasions in a finite state. The findings of our survey also reflect upon virtuosity with NIMEs, whose peculiar performance practice results in learning trajectories that often do not lead to the development of virtuosity as it is commonly understood in traditional performance.