ConDiS – Conducting Digital System

Hilmar Thordarson, Research Fellow at NTNU, Dept of Music


In his book, The Computer Music tutorial (1996) Curtis Roads wrote:
“The original remote controller for music is the conductor’s baton”.


But if we were to take the remote controller and develop it even further, if we can develop a system where the conductor can with physical body movements or gestures, remotely control the acoustic sound of the orchestra and at the same time the sonic spectrum and timbre of digitally processed sound of the same orchestra?

As the technology for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) keeps evolving interactive systems are more and more capable to analyze and recognize human body movements and gestures. Are we capable to build up a system that feels “natural” for the conductor? Can we build up a gesture recognizing system that allows the conductor to use his/her natural way of expressive conducting to add the same expressiveness to live interactive electronic sounds?

Through analyzing conducting gestures and testing various sensor techniques I seek to find answers to these questions and at the same time introduce my artistic research, ConDiS – Conducting Digital System.

ConDiS is designed to enable a conductor not only to control the overall sound of the performing musicians but also to control a digitally processed version of the performer´s sound in real time. It means that the conductor should be able to “grab” a sound from one or more instrument throw it in the air (so to speak), change its sonority and move it around the hall, all with his conducting gestures.

In other words, conducting the balance, location in space and timbre between the instrumental signal and the computer generated sound signal.

ConDiS is directed toward the interaction, the expressions, the musical gestures and movements of the classical conductor.

Artistic Research, Music Technology, Music Performance, Conducting, Composing.