Integra - Fusing Music and Technology

 

Summary

Integra was a Europe-wide programme of live electronic music activities. They have commissioned composers, organised more than 30 performances and transferred classic pieces from their original technology to more modern platforms. In doing this they aim to inspire people to become involved in live electronic music and demonstrate the vitality of the art form. They are developing a new software environment to make music with live electronics, modernising works that use old technology, commissioning composers and overseeing an exciting programme of performances. Integra brings together six research centres and five new music ensembles and is led by Birmingham Conservatoire at Birmingham CIty University in the UK.

Objectives

One of Integra’s most important objectives was to bring together people from all over Europe who had a professional interest in music and live electronics. In particular, they hoped to engage with those who lived in places where our project could most benefit the creative scene, be that through training, networking or the dissemination of new ideas.
A call for participants was sent out in early 2010 and fifteen people have been selected to take part in the outreach activities. They were invited to attend two Integra events including concerts, meetings and software training sessions. The aim was to provide an exciting opportunity to experience different cultures and contribute to developments at the intersection of art, science and technology. They ask each participant to write a short report outlining the impact of their involvement in the outreach project.

Methods

Integra was running a Europe-wide programme of live electronic music activities. They had commissioned composers, organised more than 30 performances and transferred classic pieces from their original technology to more modern platforms. In doing this, they aimed to inspire people to become involved in live electronic music and demonstrate the vitality of the art form. They were also developing a new software environment to make music with live electronics, modernising works that use old technology, commissioning composers and overseeing an exciting programme of performances. 

Tools

The project developed also a new software: Integra Live. Integra Live was an application for the composition and performance of live electronic music. Integra Live made it easy to produce live electronics by allowing the user to quickly add, connect and control Integra modules with minimal effort.

The application was divided into two main views: arrange view, which was used for composition, and live view, which was used for performance. The arrange view provided a workspace where the composer can organise ideas and map controls onto module parameters.

Musical interactions with the live electronics were encapsulated into ordered blocks, which could be stretched to give them greater visual significance or ordered vertically in tracks, which provided the possibility for multiple independent timelines. Inside each block modules could be added and connected. Modules could be simple ‘FX’ processors, complex synthesisers or bespoke live electronics processing components. Blocks containing modules could be exported and shared between different projects. Each block had associated with it a number of envelopes, which could be edited in the arrange view. Envelopes could be used to control any of the parameters of modules inside a block. Each block also provided a routing and scripting tab. The routing tab enabled the composer to make connections between parameters. The scripting tab allowed users to execute script when parameters change. The scripting interface could in turn be used to control any parameter in the selected block.

The live view was the performance hub of the application. Here module controls could be organised spatially, and re-sized to give the most convenient area of interaction.

Controls were as wide-ranging as the modules they attach to, varying from simple dials and sliders, to interfaces for spatial mapping. Scenes created in arrange view could be navigated via keyboard shortcuts, which were shown on the live view collapsible keyboard panel.

Both arrange and live view had a lighting toggle, which could be used to switch the entire application into a ‘dark mode’, optimised for dimly-lit stage environments.

Advanced features
- all module parameters remotely controllable via OSC
- write your own modules in Pure Data or Max 5
- write your own module controls using the Adobe Flex SDK
- store your projects in a bespoke online data store

Added value

The 'Integra' project (2005-2008), supported by the CULTURE 2000 Programme and coordinated by the Birmingham Conservatoire, promoted cooperation and mobility in the field of electro-acoustic composition and creation. The project is in continuous development thanks also to the powerful application Integra Live that is still work in progress.

- Text from Net Sounds -