Managing Musical Complexity with Embodied Metaphors

Graham, Richard and Bridges, Brian

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper presents the ideas and mapping strategies behind a performance system that uses a combination of motion tracking and feature extraction tools to manage complex multichannel audio materials for real-time music composition. The use of embodied metaphors within these mappings is seen as a means of managing the complexity of a musical performance across multiple modalities. In particular, we will investigate how these mapping strategies may facilitate the creation of performance systems whose accessibility and richness are enhanced by common integrating bases. A key focus for this work is the investigation of the embodied image schema theories of Lakoff and Johnson alongside similarly embodied metaphorical models within Smalley’s influential theory of electroacoustic music (spectromorphology). These metaphors will be investigated for their use as grounding structural components and dynamics for creative practices and musical interaction design. We argue that pairing metaphorical models of forces with environmental forms may have particular significance for the design of complex mappings for digital music performance.