The OWL programmable stage effects pedal: Revising the concept of the on-stage computer for live music performance

Webster, Thomas and LeNost, Guillaume and Klang, Martin

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper introduces the OWL stage effects pedal and aims to present the device within the context of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research. The OWL is a dedicated, programmable audio device designed to provide an alternative to the use of laptop computers for bespoke audio processing on stage for music performance. By creating a software framework that allows the user to program their own code for the hardware in C++, the OWL project makes it possible to use homemade audio processing on stage without the need for a laptop running a computer music environment such as Pure Data or Supercollider. Moving away from the general-purpose computer to a dedicated audio device means that some of the potential problems and technical complexity of performing with a laptop computer onstage can be avoided, allowing the user to focus more of their attention on the musical performance. Within the format of a traditional guitar ’stomp box’, the OWL aims to integrate seamlessly into a guitarist’s existing pedal board setup, and in this way presents as an example of a ubiquitous and tangible computing device -a programmable computer designed to fit into an existing mode of musical performance whilst being transparent in use.