Interaction Modalities


The session will give an overall introduction to the term Interaction: the natural feedback between several elements that are affecting each other in a conversation. Interaction involves a diverse set of fields such as perception, cognitive aspects, psychology, formal systems, logic, language (auditory, visual), the concept of data, memory, intuition, error etc.

Participants will learn how to design an artifact to interpret a problem and make it easier to understand. This problem can be a thought, a musical composition, a portfolio, a conversation, or any other substance where communication, interpretation is needed.


Intro Lecture: Interaction Modalities (Monday evening)

Contextual analysis - borrowed from digital sound instruments  (Tuesday, full day)

Expressive Constraints
expressive limitations outlined by the tool’s design. This is the space of musical possibilities.

degree to which the instrument provides the functionality of an automata. Certain musical tasks are delegated to the instrument (often using artificial intelligence), possibly responding to a performer.

Music Theory
amount of culturally specific music theory encapsulated in the instrument, in terms of the possibilities for various tonal and rhythmical structures, as well as signal processing. This could typically be scales, chords, arpeggios, or time signatures.Explorability - how much depth the instrument holds. This factor is critical with regards to how
engaging the instrument is and affects learning curve and the possibility of flow.

Required Foreknowledge
many systems do not require much musical knowledge in their design or performance as they contain it already.

degree to which the instrument lends itself to free improvisation. How responsive is it, how open for changes in real time performance and how quickly can it be adapted to those?

how open in expression the instrument is and how well it copes with the multiplicity different of musical situations.

whether the instrument is novel in terms of interaction, sound and function or an imitation of established tools and practices.

Workflow & rapid development (Wednesday, full day)

  • decomposition -- how do I break down my thoughts into mind-sized pieces?
  • recomposition -- how do I glue pieces together?
  • readability -- what do these words mean? ( commenting, sharing, modularity )


  • follow the flow -- what happens when?
  • see the state -- what is the computer thinking?
  • create by reacting -- start somewhere, then sculpt
  • immediate feedback on the screen, tinker
  • create by abstracting -- start concrete, then generalize
  • start constant & vary
  • start with one, make many
  • modularity
  • stateless design (flexibility)

Working on individual projects (Thursday, full day)

Evaluation / Presentation (Friday morning)


On each afternoon we have time to brainstorm and discuss individual project ideas. Throughout the course we are going to draw, sketch some ideas using paper and pens. Some of these will be also translated to code prototype and/or some sort of documentation depending on the projects. We are going to use free & open source tools Processing & Pure Data for our exploration.  

Recommended reading & web resources

Designing Interactions -
Interaction Design -
Community Space -
Pure Data -
Processing -

Published on  October 17th, 2013