A New Mix of Forgotten Technology: Sound Generation, Sequencing and Performance Using an Optical Turntable

Pashenkov, Nikita

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This report presents a novel interface for musical performance which utilizes a record-player turntable augmented with a computation engine and a high-density optical sensing array. The turntable functions as a standalone step sequencer for MIDI events transmitted to a computer or another device and it is programmed in real-time using visual disks. The program instructions are represented on printed paper disks directly as characters of English alphabet that could be read by human as effectively as they are picked up by the machine’s optical cartridge. The result is a tangible interface that allows the user to manipulate pre-arranged musical material by hand, by adding together instrumental tracks to form a dynamic mix. A functional implementation of this interface is discussed in view of historical background and other examples of electronic instruments for music creation and performance incorporating optical turntable as a central element.