Empirical studies of ConDiS Conducting

The panning or moving sound in space can be done by moving or twisting the arm wearing the conducting glove, ConGlove. The change of sonority can also be done by raising the arm wearing the ConGlove (see my blog Controlling using Conducting Gestures from October 3rd, 2017).

Empirical studies at the beginning based on own conducting practice and later conductor Arne Johansen, -Jonsvatnet Brass, and Halldis Rønning, – Trondheim Sinfonietta, lead to the conclusion that there are limitations on how much information the conductor can deliver to the performers (including the computer) during a performance. In the case of Arne Johansen conducting a five minute “conventional” composition adding real-time control of volume and panning see  ConDiS_Brass (v.1.1).  We met three times at my office where I did explain to him what to do and he then would practice with computer simulation for about an hour each time. Beginning with learning the four fundamental signs for; volume and pan control see a blog from March 5th. 2017 Conducting controlling signs, there was already some confusion. Arne was used to doing OK sign (for activating volume control) by using his thumb and middle finger, while I used thumb and index finger. When shifting between volume control and pan control, i.e. OK and Thumb up sign there would sometimes be a confusion so that the computer would not deactivate one while shifting to the other. That had not happened while I was conducting and had to do with the difference in the way we did move our fingers from one sign to another. It so happened that Arne was more satisfied being able to control both, volume and pan at the same time, therefore, a decision was made to allow him to do so. Arne was rather quick to learn the sign combination and add to his conducting technique. He also managed to practice individual control of two separate groups, done by using the index finger for group one and combined index/middle finger for group two. Preparation and practice time with the Jonsvatnet Brass was limited as is too often the case in the mixed media real-time interactive situation. Two rehearsals plus a concert was not enough time to work out the best quality of sound and mix of the acoustic and electronic sound. Nor did it give enough time to exercise sufficiently the potential offered by the ConDiS technology. Nevertheless, the concert performance went fine and was an important milestone in the research process as it demonstrated the constraints and potential of the system. 

An important lesson from this empirical study was undoubtedly a reassessment of the realistic use of ConDiS and the classical role of the conductor. Although Arne did very well, one can not ignore the fact that he was conducting a relatively short and simple composition that gave him more time to concentrate on conducting the electronics.  Still, it was plenty and indeed early in the practicing process decisions had to be made to minimize the control of electronic conducting.  Working with Arne was a was a very valuable experience in the development of ConDiS and taught me that less can sometimes be more.

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