[ISEA2011] Paper: Richard Hoadley – The Metapiano: Composing and Improvising Through Sculpture


This paper concerns the design, implementation and demonstration of interactive sculptural interfaces which need to be used by the public as well as by specialist performers such as musicians or dancers.  Options for automatic control are also available.  The set of interfaces under consideration is referred to as the ‘metapiano’, itself a ‘meta-sculpture’ comprising a collection of diverse and independent sculptural items, each of which are being developed to control a sometimes self-referential array of musically expressive algorithms.  In the case of the metapiano the primary sound source, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that of a (synthesised) piano.

The paper describes the manner in which a viewer/performer interacts with hardware and software systems, examines the nature of the music created, and details how the two are related.  Of particular interest is the way in which the resulting music relates to both new and more traditional forms of composition and performance.

  • Dr. Richard Hoadley, Anglia Ruskin University, UK. In recent years the musician, composer and technologist Richard Hoadley has focused on the role of technology in musical composition and performance. In particular this includes the design, construction and implementation of physical interfaces along with algorithmic software to generate such compositions as ‘One Hundred and Twenty Seven Haikus’.  He is currently developing a suite of physical interfaces including ‘Gaggle’‘Wired’ and the ‘Metapiano’ – hardware/software systems designed for physical interactions with digital algorithms in particular with the public and dancers.  After graduating from the universities of Bristol and Durham (PhD), he was awarded the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust Composer-in-Residency at Charterhouse School. His instrumental compositions include ‘Only Connect’, an orchestral work recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Music in our Time’ and ‘In Principio’ for the BBC Singers. He is currently affiliated with the Digital Performance Laboratory at Anglia Ruskin University. rhoadley.net   Video: Metapiano (from Triggered) King’s Place, London, June 2011. 

Full text (PDF)  p. 1204-1210