John Bowers, Sten-Olof Hellström, Tomas Nygren

This is a proposal for a workshop to explore the opportunities for building simple, yet complete, sensor-based musical performance environments using open source, free/libre software and hardware. In particular, we will focus on the joint use of Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Pure Data, and simple peripheral electronics. The workshop will enable its participants to acquire the skills to make a simple performance environment ‘end to end’, that is, from peripheral sensing through data acquisition and transmission to sound synthesis algorithms, rather than focus on just one of those elements as workshops more commonly do. Our emphasis is on integrating all these open source resources.

An important point to the workshop is that each participant can develop a performable assemblage of software and hardware. It is most motivating if the workshop can be followed by a public performance in which the participants play what they have built. Again such a performance could be flexibly accommodated, from our point of view, into the Piksel programme. It could form part of the main Piksel performance schedule or it could be held at the same venue as the workshop at the end of the last workshop session. To support a performance, we would need a PA and an on-stage multi-channel mixer that could combine all the Raspberry Pis.

The workshop is a co-production of Nya Perspektiv, Schhh… and Onoma Research with support also from Culture Lab, Newcastle University and Labb17 Hackerspace. The workshop will be delivered by the experienced composers, performers, open source programmers and instrument makers, John Bowers and Sten-Olof Hellström, with technical support from Tomas Nygren, Per Andersson and Hedvig Kamp.