Scambi Surface Sequencer

The ‘Scambi Surface Sequencer’ is an interactive multi-touch installation built for the EU funded DREAM project (Digital Re-Working / Re-Appropriation of Electro-Acoustic Music). DREAM is a collaboration between the universities of Padua (I), Aalborg (Dk) and Middlesex (GB). The project culminated in a symposium at the Musical Instrument Museum in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy, where I gave a performance/demonstration of the Scambi Surface Sequencer.

The ‘Scambi Surface Sequencer’ is based on Henri Pousseur’s historic composition ‘Scambi’, created in 1957 at the RAI studios, Milan. Scambi is an electroacoustic work which exemplifies the notion of an ‘open’ form. An open form is a work left to some degree underspecified by the author, so as to create a situation in which multiple distinct instantiations can be realised by other people. Although it can be argued that scored music is always ‘open’ to a certain degree.

The sonic materials of Scambi are a collection of 32 sound segments, each approximately 36 or 42 seconds in length. Pousseur sculpted these pieces of audio by running white noise through processes such as amplitude filtering, reverberation and tape-speed modulation. Originally these sections were stored on lengths of magnetic tape. Pousseur identified four parameters within his sonic materials; Relative Pitch, Speed, Homogeneity and Continuity, and these were used to describe the starting and ending conditions for each sound segment. By joining together sound segments with matching start and end conditions, multiple sonic compositions could be assembled, with the connecting rule (matching start and end conditions) ensuring seamless joins between segments.

The Scambi Surface Sequencer users a Multi-Touch interfae to enable the real-time creation of Scambi compositions via tangible interaction.  Take a look at this short work-in-progress demonstration.

More technical details can be found in our 2011 SMC paper on the interface.

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