Pathfinder is an audiovisual performance-game for solo drummer, exploring the synergies between multiple contemporary creative practices. The work navigates between music composition, improvisation, projection/light art and game art. At its heart lies a bespoke electroacoustic instrument, the augmented drum-kit, used not only to provide the sonic content of the work in real-time, but also as a highly expressive game controller that interacts with an instrument-specific game. The musical instrument offers a much wider range of expressive possibilities, control and tactile feedback in comparison to a traditional general-purpose game controller, and as a result it affords a more diverse and nuanced game play performance. Live electronics, lights, projections and the drum-kit all make up the performance-game’s universe, within which the performer has to explore, adapt, navigate and complete a journey. This research aimed to address a number of research questions such as: How can a musical game harness the expressivity of an instrumentalist’s performance practice, as opposed to commercial music games using conventional game controllers? How can improvisation, experimentation and failure be quantified and rewarded in an open world musical game scenario? The theoretical underpinnings of the work and findings are documented the upcoming article ‘Designing Musical Games for Electroacoustic Improvisation’, to be published on the upcoming Organised Sound Journal Vol.26, Number 1 Issue, by Cambridge University Press.
Pathfinder was toured conferences, festivals and exhibitions internationally. These include the International Conference on Live Interfaces (2016), Brighton, New Interfaces for Musical Expression (2016), Brisbane, where the piece also won the conference’s best performance award, DiGRA/FDG (2016), Dundee, PRESS PLAY (2016), Dundee, Blank Arcade (2016), Dundee, Games Are for Everyone (2016), Edinburgh, Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music (2016), Belfast, Edinburgh Science Festival (2017), Edinburgh, and the International Conference of Computer Music, Shanghai (2016).