New Interfaces For Musical ExpressionNIME

Udder-Utter is an instrument that utters syllabic sounds derived from the Devanāgarī alphabet, which is used to write Hindi and other Indo-Arayan languages. It’s playability is inspired by the gestures involved in milking a cow. The sounds that this instrument utters are intended to be a mix of discrete and continuous in nature and are rhythmic due to their syllabic/phonetic origins. I see the Udder as an instrument for constructing and rupturing meaning through its playability by using syllabic sounds to construct monosyllabic meanings and imagery to extract formal elements.

Playing the instrument primarily involves manipulating and generating phonetic sounds. In addition the instrument allows its player to control a visual system explained below.

Screenshots of the visual system

The screen component for the performance reacted to the instrument. For this I had to interface MAX/MSP to C++ via openFrameworks and OSC.
The visual idea was to extract colours out of images and simultaneously erase them in the process. Image pixels were used to read colours and then the colours were mapped onto a stroke that was modulated depending on sensor values from the instrument. The speed with which the image lost colours depended on how the instrument was played (fast/slow gestures) and on certain other parameters.

A short video from the ITP NIME performance

Notes on the Imagery: I was interested in playing with the expression “milking the cash cow” by literally having the instrument sap colours out of currencies (notes/bills). I selected a series of currencies from nations that celebrate their abundance of natural resources and manpower through use of illustrations. These illustrations are references to their “cash cow”. One sees patterns of representation through iconography- such as farmers, tractors, cash crops, chimneys, industrial sheds, mineral deposits, mines etc, all of which serve as mastheads of development for emerging economies. In the globalized landscape such countries see themselves as offshore providers of resources to larger and richer countries. In turn such emerging economies are in ways the cash cow for richer nations who often sift for foreign resources before they start to consume their own as an act of self-preservation or find it cheaper to do so in their neo-imperialistic spirit. It is this vicious underrepresented portrait of national interests vs vested interests that I wanted to express through this instrument and performance. To me it was important to represent the consumed and less the consumer.


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