Design (refer to typology LINK)
Type: Creative System are composite constructions of pre-defined audio, dynamic visual information and sound processing, all controlled and coordinated through a central computer environment.
GuitaRPG is an interactive 2-dimensional score through which the performer may freely navigate. Taking inspiration from Role Playing Games (RPGs), the performer may move through regions of the score at their own pace, each region featuring its own distinct soundscape. Upon encountering a new region, the performer will be presented with a new sound or technique to explore on their instrument, accumulating sounds all the way until the climax at the end of the piece. The more times a performer encounters a particular technique, the more they ‘level-up’ and unlock more variations of that technique. This piece was commissioned by Craig Vear and the Digiscore research project, and created using the neoscore python library, developed principally by Andrew Yoon.
Analysis (using the 7 modalities - LINK)
The music idea embedded in GuitaRPG is immediately communicated through the visual sense, specifically using neoscore software as a game design. Listening is always present in music-making, and a certain amount of supporting/ secondary material is communicated here by this digital score through the live processing of the guitar. The immediate phenomenon of experience evoked by this digital score is visual.
The visual game design is primarily responsible for the affectual connections with the musician. It reaches out and draws in relationships through the following aspects, and in doing so shifts the “sense ratios” and “patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance” (McLuhan, 1964):
- visual design of an open world role-player game (RPG)
- presence of the underlying algorithm and its decision making process
- the maze/ game design map on the screen
- live processing of the guitar sound
The goal of this digital score is to follow the realtime generated path through the maze, and to play (as best as possible) the notation that each leg of the maze presents on the screen.
The primary signals that convey meaning in GuitaRPG are:
- signs and shapes generated using the neoscore notation software
- the pre-defined effects controlling the live processing of sound
The language of this digital score is either iconic and sensory with the performer able to make decisions about which on-the-fly depending on on-sreen density and abstraction, and their ongoing dramaturgy of the piece. Iconic interpretations rely on the canonical semiotics of Western European Art Music and the traditional notation system, and the use of guitar tablature and chord diagrams. Sensory interpretations are informed by this, but are freed from rhetoric when the performer wishes, or needs too because of density and complexity. An additional language is the realtime response from the live audio processing. This helps the performer to make decisions about placement, timing, duration as well as iconic or sensory modes.
The animated nature of the maze offers constant reference to the position of the score. The sound design of the live processing offers guidence to the type of interpretation, and also grounds the performance in the sound-world defined by the composer.
Flow in GuitaRPG is embedded within its gamified nature. Like an open-world game, the map in the top corner offers a global view of the music-world, with specific details only apparent when the player ventures (or is taken) into one of its branches. And like an open-world game the flow of engagement is infused with a spirit of adventure, where abstract chords, multiple dots, obscure guitar notation and unusual coloured shapes confront the voyager and demands to be made into meaning.