Explores the ways in which electronic music is controlled and performed. A solid historical perspective is presented, tracing the development of various families of electronic musical controllers and instruments from their genesis in the late 1800s onwards. Design principles and engineering detail are also given for various current and classic controllers. Evolving issues in the control of computer music for live performance and interactive installations are discussed, including computer mapping of sensor signals and transduced gesture onto sound, music, and other media. Many examples of controllers in performance will be presented and discussed/analyzed from both artistic and technical perspectives. Weekly reading assignments are given, and a final project or paper is required. Final projects will be presented in front of Jordan Rudess, grammy-winning keyboardist, member of progressive metal band Dream Theatre.


A project paper must be submitted, in NIME conference format. Class discussion will be encouraged. Everybody is also expected to give at least one talk during the term.



To register interest, please sign up.


The current class schedule is below (subject to change)

Date Description Course Materials
Feb 6 Week 1: Intro & Motivation
  • History of Musical Interfaces
  • Design criteria in Musical Interfaces
  • Aesthetics and Engineering
  1. Paradiso, J. (unpublished). Electronic Controllers for Musical Performance and Interaction.
  2. Rovan, J.B. (2009). Living on the Edge: Alternate Controllers and the Obstinate Interface. In: Riley, S.R., Hunter, L. (eds) Mapping Landscapes for Performance as Research. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  3. Dolan, E. (2012) Toward a Musicology of Interfaces. Keyboards Perspectives V.
Feb 13 Week 2: Keyboards & Button Banks
  • Physics of sound
  • Requirement of keyboard controllers
  • Generalized Keyboard and Alternative Keyboards
  1. Allen, J. (1997). The general keyboard in the age of MIDI.
  1. Jordan Rudess playing the AXiS 64.
  2. H-Pi TONAL PLEXUS - Demo
Feb 20 President's Day
Feb 27 Week 3: Musical Mapping for Controllers
  • Significance of mapping control structures for sound synthesis.
  • Paradigms of musical interactions in controllers.
  1. Van Nort, D., Wanderley, M. M., & Depalle, P. (2014). Mapping Control Structures for Sound Synthesis: Functional and Topological Perspectives. Computer Music Journal, 38(3), 6-22.
  2. Tubb, R., & Dixon, S. (2014). A Zoomable Mapping of a Musical Parameter Space Using Hilbert Curves. Computer Music Journal, 38(3), 23-33.
  3. Hunt A, Wanderley MM. Mapping performer parameters to synthesis engines. Organised Sound. 2002;7(2):97-108.
Mar 5 Week 4: Machine Learning and Musical Expression
  • New perspectives in Musical Interfaces Design
  • Mappings and Representations in the ML Era
  • Utility, Opportunities & Challenges in Machine Learning for Musical Expression
  1. Jourdan, T. & Caramiaux, B. (2023). Machine Learning for Musical Expression: A Systematic Literature Review. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression
  2. Fiebrink, R. & Sonami, L. (2020). Reflections on Eight Years of Instrument Creation with Machine Learning. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression
Mar 12 Week 5: Musical Mapping in Time and Space
  • Musical mappings in large art installations
  • Sonic and percepetual characteristics of spaces
  1. Dunn, D. (2022). Acoustic ecology and the experimental music tradition - new music USA.
  2. Amacher, M. (2009). Composing perceptual geographies.
  3. Cascella, D. (2006). Maryanne Amacher. Gravity. Music for sound joined rooms series. The Wire. Adventures in Modern Music.
Mar 19 Week 6: Vocal Interfaces
  • Avant-garde vocalists and their interfaces
  • Voice as Music Controller
  • Vocoder and derivative products
  1. Phil Minton and Christian Marclay
  2. David Moss performs at Open Air Philly
  3. Incredible Sonovox - Kay Kyser - 1940 film "You'll Find Out"
  4. Adachi Tomomi - Voice and Infrared Sensor Shirt
Mar 26 Spring Break
Apr 2 Week 7: Percussion Interfaces & Control Surfaces
  • Pitch Perception
  • Sensorimotor Synchronization
  • Latency
  • Biomechanics
  1. Merrill, D., Raffle, H. & Aimi, R. (2008). The sound of touch: physical manipulation of digital sound. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '08).
  2. Repp, B.H. (2005) Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of the tapping literature. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 12, 969-992.
  3. Aoki, T., & Kinoshita, H. (2001). Temporal and force characteristics of fast double-finger, single-finger and hand tapping. Ergonomics, 44(15), 1368-1383.
Apr 9 Week 8: Bioeletric & Free Gesture Interfaces
  • Body wiring for music control
  • Brain interfaces and Brain music
  • Baton and tracking controllers
  1. Ulyate, R., & Bianciardi, D. (2002). The Interactive Dance Club: Avoiding Chaos in a Multi-Participant Environment. Computer Music Journal, 26(3), 40-49.
  2. Mark Feldmeier, & Paradiso, J. A. (2007). An Interactive Music Environment for Large Groups with Giveaway Wireless Motion Sensors. Computer Music Journal, 31(1), 50-67.
Apr 16 Week 9: Wearable Interfaces & Tactile Controllers
  • Kinetic & Isometric Sensors
  • Wearable Technology for Musical Expression
  • Case studies for trust networks
  • Situate within deliberative democracy theory
  1. Paradiso, J., Hsiao, K., Benbasat A. & Teegarden, Z. (2000). Design and implementation of expressive footwear. IBM Systems Journal, vol. 39, no. 3.4, 511-529.
  2. Laubier, S., & Goudard, V. (2006). Meta-Instrument 3: a look over 17 years of practice. New Interfaces for Musical Expression.
Apr 23 Week 10: Sonar, Video, and Tangible Controllers
  • Tangible Interfaces in Musical Expression
  • Capactive Applications and Magnetic Sensing
  • Tag Tracking
  1. SOUND=SPACE, Rolf Gehlhaar, 1997
  2. Very Nervous System (1982-1991) by David Rokeby
Apr 30 Project presentations
May 7 Project presentations
May 13 TBD