Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
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Sunday, May 19 • 15:15 - 15:45
Grids, Waveforms, and “Blocks” of Sound: On the Increased Segmentation of Musical Content in Digital Music Production

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Grid-based controllers and control surfaces designed to creatively interact with musical content organized and stored in separate segments of sound has become ubiquitous. One of the reasons for the grid layout’s popularity and dominance in the digital instrument industry today is its ability to convey visual “building blocks” of sound and music, thus providing an ideal means of musical visualization and interaction (Bjørn, 2017). Equally interesting, however, is the ways in which this prevalence of ”gridness” in the interface-design of controllers and control surfaces today reveal how natural it has become for us to think about sound and music as visual building blocks in the first place.

This paper will discuss some of the ways in which musical tools has implemented and familiarized the use of digital sampling, MIDI sequencing, and waveform editing, and how this in turn has influenced how we conceptualize musical information today––as discrete “blocks” of musical content represented on screens or across a grid of rubber pads, ready to be triggered, stretched, juxtaposed and aligned in a non-destructive malleable environment inside the machine. Drawing on perspectives from STS focusing on the “co-construction” and “mutual shaping” of users and technology (Oudshoorn & Pinch, 2003), this paper will explore how we can understand the increased segmentation of sound in the age of digital reproduction as a continuous negotiation between 1) underlying technological advancements, 2) the material affordances of key interface designs, 3) the aesthetic practice and shifting ideals of users.

Bjørn, K. 2017. Push. Turn. Move. Interface Design In Electronic Music. Copenhagen, Denmark:Bjooks.
Oudshoorn, N. & Pinch, T. 2003 [2005]. eds. How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

avatar for Bjørnar Sandvik

Bjørnar Sandvik

Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Oslo

Sunday May 19, 2019 15:15 - 15:45 EDT
Classroom 311 (3rd floor)