Designing musical games for electroacoustic improvisation

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This paper describes the background and motivations behind the author’s electroacoustic game-pieces Pathfinder (2016) and ICARUS (2019), designed specifically for his performance practice with an augmented drum kit. The use of game structures in music is outlined, while musical expression in the context of commercial musical games using conventional game controllers is discussed. Notions such as agility, agency and authorship in music composition and improvisation are in parallel with game design and play, where players are asked to develop skills through affordances within a digital game-space. It is argued that the recent democratisation of game engines opens a wide range of expressive opportunities for real-time game-based improvisation and performance. Some of the design decisions and performance strategies for the two instrument-controlled games are presented to illustrate the discussion; this is done in terms of game design, physical control through the augmented instrument, live electronics and overall artistic goals of the pieces. Finally, future directions for instrument-controlled electroacoustic game-pieces are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-88
Number of pages11
JournalOrganised Sound
Issue number1
Early online date20 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2021


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