Adaptive Use Musical Instruments
Software Musical Instrument
Pauline Oliveros, Leaf Miller, Zevin Polzin, Zane Van Dusen
This project introduces motion tracking software designed to be used in creative music sessions. Rather than presupposing a full range of movement, or more complicated gestures than some children are capable of making, this project amplifies very small, limited movements into real musical expression. The only gestures our participants have made previously to communicate are all binary: yes/no answers, or using physical switches to turn music on or off. Our software gives children and adults with very limited motor skills the opportunity to improvise music. The software programmed in MaxMSP runs on either Mac or PC, and requires a computer with camera and speakers.
Short project description:
Users of the Adaptive Use Software may play a virtual keyboard by turning their heads a little bit left and/or right to activate the keys sequentially. At this stage of development it is possible to invent scalar stepwise melodies. A variety of different scales or modes with different sound qualities may be selected. Users may also work with drum sounds. The camera detects head movements, with drum sound samples mapped to sections on the screen that can be adjusted for the range of head movement. Users are able to play solo or with other drummers in ensemble. The software has been successfully tested at Rehab Programs Inc. School in Poughkeepsie NY, in a weekly drum class developed by musician and occupational therapist Leaf Miller with technical assistance and programming by Zane Van Duzen and Zevin Polzin.
Pauline Oliveros is one of America's most vital composers. Deep Listening, her lifetime practice, is fundamental to her composing, performing and teaching. She serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY; Darius Milhaud Artist-in-residence at Mills College, Oakland CA; and president of the Deep Listening Institute in Kingston NY.
Leaf Miller is a drummer, composer, teacher, occupational therapist, and instrument builder. She has been playing drums and percussion in the World Music Tradition for over 35 years. Leaf is musical director of Women Who Drum, a multi-media project dedicated to women's world drumming traditions. She currently performs with IABAS, a Brazilian folkloric band based in New York, and has performed in Bahia with the Orquestra Afro-Baiana, under the direction of Emilia Biancardi. Leaf is on the faculty of Potential Unlimited Performing Arts Institute, a program for artists with developmental disabilities. As an occupational therapist, she has been working with children for over 20 years. Leaf's involvement with the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument Project, fulfills a long held dream to create accessible musical instruments for children with special needs.
Zevin Polzin is a composer and programmer specializing in sleep concerts, emergent systems, and influencing the outcome of random events with his mind. Current projects include the Intelligent Expanded Instrument System; Adaptive Use Musical Instruments; and improvisations with laptop and prepared banjo. He has recorded several albums of original electro-acoustic compositions. He is currently the Multi-Media Tech for Deep Listening Institute, Ltd. in Kingston, NY. www.zevinpolzin.com
Zane Van Dusen is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a dual-degree in "Computer Science" and "Electronic Media Arts & Communications". While attending RPI, Zane was in charge of "Ground Zero", a student-run performing arts venue, where he organized many concerts and events featuring local and touring musicians. During his senior year at college, Zane worked with Dr. Pauline Oliveros to develop the adaptive use musical insturment. Currently, Zane works as a software developer, and musician in New York City.