Musical Poi (mPoi)

Nam, Sangbong

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper describes the Musical Poi (mPoi), a unique sensor-based musicalinstrument rooted in the ancient art of poi spinning. The trajectory ofcircular motion drawn by the performance and the momentum of the mPoiinstrument are converted to the energetic and vibrant sound, which makesspiritual and meditative soundscape that opens everyone up the aura and clearsthe thought forms away. The mPoi project and its concepts will be introducedfirst and then its interaction with a performer will be discussed.The mPoi project seeks to develop a prototype for a set of mobile musicalinstrument based on electronic motion sensors and circuit boards. Thistechnology is installed in egg-shaped structure and allows communicationbetween a performer and the mPoi instrument. The principal motivation for themPoi project has been a desire to develop an extensible interface that willsupport the Poi performance, which is a style of performance art originatedwith the Maori people of New Zealand involving swinging tethered weightsthrough a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. As an extension of the body and the expansion of the movement, the mPoiutilizes the creative performance of Poi to make spatial and spiritual soundand music. The aims of the mPoi project are:to create a prototype of mPoi instrument that includes circuit board thatconnects the instrument to a develop a software, which includes programming of the circuit board and forthe sound make a new artistic expression to refine the captured sound into artisticmusical notes. The creative part of the project is to design a unique method to translate theperformer’s gesture into sound. A unique algorithm was developed to extractfeatures of the swing motion and translate them into various patterns of sound.