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Digital music performances take on a more visual character

A suite of 3D interfaces and mixed-reality technologies promises to take digital musical instruments to the next level, enabling audiences to enjoy performances in a more visual and engaging manner.

Digital Economy

Beyond electronic drums, high-tech synthesisers and sophisticated base guitars, digital musical instruments have evolved to create an amazing array of sounds and unique, engaging music. In live digital musical performances however, the audience cannot always perceive the properties of the instruments and the subtleties of how their being played. The EU-funded IXMI (Improving the experience of musicians and spectators with digital musical instruments using 3D interfaces and mixed-reality technologies) project sought to change this. Conceiving mixed-reality displays and 3D interfaces to augment digital musical instruments, the team design a new approach called Rouages to enhance the audience experience. The system magnifies musicians’ gestures with virtual extensions of the physical interface. It displays representations of different sound processes of the instrument and showcases the connections between the interface and sound processes. Through holographic-type interfaces, the spectators can understand which part of the music is directly controlled by a musician's gestures, immersing them much more fully in a more audio-visual experience. IXMI also developed the Reflets mixed-reality display for artistic performances, enabling viewers to better view performances through reflections of the instruments being played in a large semi-transparent mirror. In conjunction, it created a model of digital orchestras that complements Rouages, highlighting interaction among musicians. The project team built prototypes of its systems, presenting the results in different publications and conferences. Exploitation of the innovative products will add an extra level of engagement to digital music performances and render them more enjoyable than ever.


Digital music, 3D interfaces, mixed-reality technologies, IXMI, Rouages

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