Lecturers: Frank Feltham + Josh Batty

Tuesday and Thursdays 1.30pm until 4.30 pm

In the contemporary music and sound art contexts, the expression of a musical phrase or sonic texture requires not only a strong compositional sense, but also high levels of authorship and control over the software and hardware you use. Jammin’ out finger drumming beats, bass rubs, harmonies or developing rich ambient textures requires a symbiosis with both the human action on the hardware, novel mappings of this action to data, and the expression of this data as interesting phrases and textures.

Contemporary music has seen many pioneers of sound making as a highly expressive but also musical act. From the almost alien sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Adrian Belew on the guitar, to the badass funk keyboard of Bernie Worrell, these cats push the physicality and electronic capabilities of their instruments to create new phrases and textures. In the digital age artists like Aphex Twin, Tim Exile, Richard Devine can go beyond the physical limitations of the physical instrument to create their own custom real time digital instruments to express wild compositional and sonic ideas through the aid of digital algorithmic processes.

But at its core is the relationship between these actions with the digital sound synthesis to generate expression. This studio will explore this exciting new space using state of the art DIY MIDI platform combined with an industry standard digital audio workstation (DAWs) to explore the gestures and actions with the hand and body to express musical or textual ideas. We will instruct you in some of the fundamentals with regard to DIY electronics and the use of the DAW, Ableton Live, for you to rapidly construct your own controller circuit and couple this to Ableton so that you will be making sounds very quickly. So no knowledge of low level programming or electronics is required to make a start. With this platform established you will start refining and iterating both the sound design and the physical control with advancements being documented in your design report.

The outcomes will be that you will design and build your own midi controller that includes both the electronics, the look and feel of the housing and buttons. Accompanying this you will create an Ableton Live set that manages all of the digital sound synthesis. You will be then have an opportunity to perform with your controller at the “Controllerism” concert at SIAL sound labs at the end of the semester. If performing is not your thing there will be an exhibition before and after the concert for you to demonstrate your work to the RMIT community. Finally you will document all of your work in a design report that is part of the design in the research context studio stream.