A Little Light Saber Rattling (2008)

A Little Light Saber Rattling (2008) for Wiimote Controler and Kyma

A Little Light Saber Rattling is the first in a series of compositional experiments using non-traditional devices as “virtual” musical instruments. Here, the “Wiimote” and its companion device the “Wiimote Nunchuk” are used to control up to 5 different virtual instruments that are realized on the Kyma sound design workstation. The first virtual instrument is a “light saber” sound, based on and modified from a prototype sound by Matteo Milani. Additional instruments include a pitched percussive instrument, granular clouds that follow the Wiimote gestures, trombone samples, and time-variant delay lines.

The purpose of this experiment is to see how one could conceivably control each of the virtual instruments, separately or with other instruments simultaneously. The composition, although based on series of described improvisatory gestures, methodically increases the number of performed instruments over the course of the entire work such that the performer is playing all five instruments simultaneously near the climax of the piece. What is hopefully clear is that at all times, all of the sounds heard in the piece are performed and under the complete control of the performer.

The Wiimote devices contain accelerometers in them that relay the devices’ orientation in space (roll, pitch, yaw), and the acceleration of the devices in all three orientations. This data is broadcast wirelessly to a laptop computer that then reads the information and sends it to another application that maps the gestures onto the virtual instruments and controls the time progression of the composition.

Because all three of these processes are separated, they can be distributed across multiple computers, and across multiple venues using the Internet. Theoretically, the performer could perform the work in one venue with the music being heard in another venue anywhere else in the world. Future compositional experiments will explore these possibilities.

The Wiimote and Wiimote Nunchuk were developed for use with the Nintendo Wii game console. These low cost devices transmit their information using the Bluetooth wireless protocol, which is read by an application that then transmits the data using the OpenSoundControl protocol across a network.

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