Organizers of the Audio Developer Conference – an annual event focusing on audio development technologies – shared this keynote presentation from ADC22, Where few designs have gone before: lessons in digital instrument design from Star Trek.
The presentation features Dr. Astrid Bin, a music technology researcher at Ableton and a founding developer of the Bela.io platform.
Bin offers an overview of the instruments of Star Trek and how they have been used as story-telling devices in each Star Trek series. Then Bin shares what she learned in recreating one of Star Trek’s fictional instruments as a digital musical instrument.
KEYNOTE: The Musical Instruments of Star Trek – Astrid Bin – ADC22
In the futuristic universe of Star Trek there are a lot of musical instruments, and many of them using far-future technology. The designers of these instruments never intended them to actually work, and were therefore led by their imaginations and not by the limitations of earthly technology – the opposite of the instrument design process today, where the design process tends to be heavily influenced by the affordances of the technology we have to hand.
In this talk music technology researcher and theorist Astrid Bin explains how she explored this imagination-first process of instrument design by recreating an instrument, as faithfully as possible, from the show. Through the process – from discovering the instrument, to getting input from the show’s original production designer, to figuring out how to make the instrument’s behaviour true to the original intentions (but using primitive 21st century embedded sensors and computers) – she describes what she learned about designing real digital musical instruments through trying to recreate an imaginary one.