If a computer could throat-sing, meditating on numbers, it might sound something like this.

Electro-acoustic composer Jeffrey Stolet is Professor of Music and Director of the Intermedia Music Technology at the University of Oregon, but “sonic shamanism” might apply as well. Mysterious sounds emerge from his laptop as he tugs and pulls on a controller, as if extracting sounds from within. (The hardware in question is a Gametrak game controller – a toy game device that has become an affordable 3D music input. Apparently some 300,000 units were sold by 2006, but the controller never caught on as a mainstream input device.)

“Lariat Rituals” is a kind of esoteric improvisation on this controller; the computer utters formants and drones as Stolet shapes and conducts the sounds.

The resulting instrumental environment is what Stolet describes as a “data-driven instrument,” though it seems it would fit in a category with other physical controllers in general.

Sound is provided by the Symbolic Sounds Kyma, a hardware-driven system that uses a graphical programming interface – powerful, if pricey, but on nice display here.

Thanks to Roland Lindner for the tip.

  • Alan Smith

    Reminding me of Matthew Herberts pig pen controller for his One pig tour

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      As it should. That was built on Gametrak. 😉

    • Alan Smith

      Ahha! that’ll be why then!

  • kent williams

    The music is cool, but how bout that hair?

    • schlocktober

      Not mentioning the hair in the post shows more restraint than most people possess. If I wrote this blog, the whole post would be about the hair. Because dear god, just look at it!

    • odin

      The next version will be controlled only by his hair.
      Did anyone see a donate button?

  • PaulDavisTheFirst

    cheaper than kyma, maybe limited to only 2d control (which may not, in fact differ from the system in the video):


    its only been around for a few years :)

    i’m always a fan of physical synthesis, but i don’t see how the gametrak is providing anything more than a 2d controller helping to drive a (probably) fairly sophisticated synth (since its Kyma). does the gametrack have some magic in those joysticks that i’m missing?

  • James Grahame

    This video makes me wish I had tenure. And hair.

  • http://twitter.com/gesslr gesslr

    Minus the theatrics, I think the gametrak could be kind of interesting to explore. They are cheap as chips on eBay…

  • http://twitter.com/wi_ngo wingo shackleford

    Hair and theatrics aside (have you *been* to Eugene Oregon?), I think this is a great piece and a really cool way of performing it. Those Kyma sounds are amazing. He must’ve put a lot of time into designing them and their controllability. I say A+, professor.

  • David Prouty

    I have heard you can do true morphing of one sound to another with Kyma ….. but what is the process that makes it capable of that? It sounds way better then a vst called morph. Peter I would love to know more about morphing sound.

  • http://www.jhhl.net/ Henry Lowengard

    This is very reminiscent of the CHANT demo from 1985 (Computer Music Journal Flexidisk). With the addition of a little reverb, it sounds pretty much to me like FOF synthesis, which is fairly computationally cheap. But you’d have to check with Prof. Stolet to find out the real story.

  • SkyRon™

    Yay, go Jeff!

    (as a former professor at U of O, and friend and colleague of Prof. Stolet, who actually programmed my work on an FMO program–Future Music Oregon–in 2004!)

  • Big Daddy Chaos

    Sideshow Bob has let himself go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chromatouch Leon Trimble

    i rushed out and bought a gametrak. brand new for £3! how do i get it working with osx, any ideas?