Screenshot of MultiControl v0.6.2

MultiControl on GitHub

Screenshot of MultiControl v0.6.2

Screenshot of MultiControl v0.6.2

Today I have added MultiControl to my GitHub account. Inititally, I did not intend to release the source code for MultiControl, because it is so old and dirty. The whole patch is based on bpatchers and trying to hide things away in the pre-Max5-days, when presentation view did not exist.

I originally developed the Max patch back in 2004, mainly so that I could distribute a standalone application for my students to use. I have only incrementally updated it to work with newer versions of Max and OSX, but have never really given it a full brush-over.

The reason why I decided to release the code now is because I get so many questions about the program. Even though there are several other good alternatives out there, a lot of people download the application each month, and I get lots of positive feedback from happy users. I also get information about bugs, and occasionally also some feature requests. While I do not really have time to update the patch myself, hopefully someone else might pick it up and improve it.

Happy multicontrolling!

If you did not understand anything about the above, here is a little screencast showcasing some of the functionality of MultiControl:

New fourMs PhD thesis: Ståle Skogstad

Ståle Skogstad

Ståle Skogstad with his poster at the Verdikt conference a few years ago.

I am happy to announce that Ståle Skogstad defended his PhD today. Ståle was a PhD student in the project Sensing Music-related Actions (SMA) in our fourMs group, and I served as one of his supervisors.

The thesis is titled Methods and Technologies for Using Body Motion for Real-Time Musical Interaction and is available from the UiO archive. Abstract:

There are several strong indications for a profound connection between musical sound and body motion. Musical embodiment, meaning that our bodies play an important role in how we experience and understand music, has become a well accepted concept in music cognition. Today there are increasing numbers of new motion capture (MoCap) technologies that enable us to incorporate the paradigm of musical embodiment into computer music. This thesis focuses on some of the challenges involved in designing such systems. That is, how can we design digital musical instruments that utilize MoCap systems to map motion to sound?

The first challenge encountered when wanting to use body motion for musical interaction is to find appropriate MoCap systems. Given the wide availability of different systems, it has been important to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of such technologies. This thesis includes evaluations of two of the technologies available: an optical marker-based system known as OptiTrack V100:R2; and an inertial sensor-based system known as the Xsens MVN suit.

Secondly, to make good use of the raw MoCap data from the above technologies, it is often necessary to process them in different ways. This thesis presents a review and suggestions towards best practices for processing MoCap data in real time. As a result, several novel methods and filters that are applicable for processing MoCap data for real-time musical interaction are presented in this thesis. The most reasonable processing approach was found to be utilizing digital filters that are designed and evaluated in the frequency domain. To determine the frequency content of MoCap data, a frequency analysis method has been developed. An experiment that was carried out to determine the typical frequency content of free hand motion is also presented. Most remarkably, it has been necessary to design filters with low time delay, which is an important feature for real-time musical interaction. To be able to design such filters, it was necessary to develop an alternative filter design method. The resulting noise filters and differentiators are more low-delay optimal than than those produced by the established filter design methods.

Finally, the interdisciplinary challenge of making good couplings between motion and sound has been targeted through the Dance Jockey project. During this project, a system was developed that has enabled the use of a full-body inertial motion capture suit, the Xsens MVN suit, in music/dance performances. To my knowledge, this is one of the first attempts to use a full body MoCap suit for musical interaction, and the presented system has demonstrated several hands-on solutions for how such data can be used to control sonic and musical features. The system has been used in several public performances, and the conceptual motivation, development details and experience of using the system are presented.

New department video

As I have mentioned previously, life has been quite hectic over the last year, becoming Head of Department at the same time as getting my second daughter. So my research activities have slowed down considerably, and also the activity on this blog.

When it comes to blogging, I have focused on building up my Head of Department blog (in Norwegian), which I use to comment on things happening in the Department as well as relevant (university) political issues. My longterm plan, though, is also to write some posts about being Head of Department on this English-language blog.

Today I would like to point to our new department video, targeted at recruiting new students:

The video is made by video journalist Camilla Smaadal, who is also responsible for a set of video presentations of our faculty. Most of these are in Norwegian, but we are planning to add English subtitles through YouTube.

The new video is aiming at giving students an impression of all the cool things happening in our Department. There are a lot of new music education programs popping up everywhere these days, so we realise that we need to be more active in promoting the qualities of our university education. This video is one little step towards this goal.

Goodbye to Facebook

I am happy to say that I have already completed my first and only new year’s resolution this year: getting rid of my Facebook account.

It turned out to be much easier than expected, as there is a separate, easily accessible delete account page on Facebook. I just had to type my password and a captcha and that was it. Now my Facebook account is disabled, and will be permanently deleted after 14 days. What a relief!

There are several reasons why I wanted to get out of the whole thing:

Time: Although I haven’t used Facebook very actively over the last years (and not before that either), I have somehow felt the need for checking my account every once in a while. This does take up time, time that I would rather spend differently.

Private-professional confusion: While Facebook can certainly be interesting for both private and professional communication, I have become increasingly aware of the challenges with such a semi-open communication channel. The addition of multiple levels of friends, groups, networks, etc., a few years ago, has added to the confusion of who you are actually communicating with. In fact, it seems like Facebook deliberately wants to make the privacy settings difficult to use. Now what we have is a semi-closed platform that, at least to people that do not care so much about their settings, gives a false sense of privacy and safety. Adding to this comes the rapid nature of social media, people firing off comments at all times of the day, in all sorts of settings, and under different types of clarity of the mind. Not to mention that short, written messages is a very mono-modal communication type compared to direct human communication. The end result is that postings can be easily regretted. I have always had the idea that everything I publish on the web, including on so-called closed platforms, should be written in a way such that it can see daylight. Being Head of Department for almost a year now, I have become even more careful about how I use Facebook myself, and what I get to know about other people (including people whom I am in charge of as employer). All in all, this point in itself was sufficient enough for me wanting to get out.

Lack of openness: Another important point that many Facebook people seem to forget, is that there is still a lot of people that are not on Facebook (now also including myself). I have noticed that more and more companies and organisations use Facebook for communication, including the University of Oslo. While there is nothing wrong in spreading information in different channels, I am somewhat worried about spending too much time on communication in a closed and limited channel. Particularly when there are good and open alternatives available, like the rest of the web…

Web politics: I have been interested in issues of open (source) software, systems, and platforms for a long time, and see Facebook as one of the main challengers of an open internet. While I at first found Facebook fascinating and fun (I got my account when it was still only a university student network back in 2007), the enormous growth and recent commercial orientation is a big turndown. Particularly the idea of embedding everything inside one, closed, commercial platform I find problematic. The beauty of the world wide web, e-mail, file sharing, etc., is that they build on open standards and protocols. This means that anyone can (at least partly) read content on HTML pages, send e-mails, transfer files, etc., independently of the OS and software they use. The Facebook approach of building their own approach to “web pages”, “e-mail” and “chatting” inside a closed platform threatens the open channels.

Security politics: My last point may be the most important from a global, democratic perspective. The year 2013 brought the Snowden leaks and was a turning point for many people when it came to realise the scope of global surveillance. Obviously, social platforms like Facebook are extremely interesting since they not only contain information about ourselves and our interests, but also all the information about our networks.

All in all, there were many reasons why I wanted to get out of Facebook. I have been thinking about it for several years, but now finally did it. Fortunately, as they write on Digitaltrends: “Deleting your Facebook account doesn’t have to mean you’ll drop off the face of the Earth.”