Managing Musical Complexity with Embodied Metaphors

Ricky Graham, Brian Bridges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper presents the ideas and mapping strategies behind a performance system (implemented in Pure Data) that uses a combination of motion tracking and feature extraction tools to manage complex multichannel audio materials for real-time music composition. The use of embodied metaphors within these mappings is seen as a means of managing the complexity of a musical performance across multiple modalities. In particular, we will investigate how these mapping strategies may facilitate the creation of performance systems whose accessibility and richness are enhanced by common integrating bases. A key focus for this work is the investigation of the embodied image schema theories of Lakoff and Johnson alongside similarly embodied metaphorical models within Smalley’s influential theory of electroacoustic music (spectromorphology). These metaphors will be investigated for their use as grounding structural components and dynamics for creative practices and musical interaction design. We argue that pairing metaphorical models of forces with environmental forms may have particular significance for the design of complex mappings for digital music performance
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherLouisiana State University
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2015
EventNew Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) 2015 - Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Duration: 1 Jun 2015 → …


ConferenceNew Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) 2015
Period1/06/15 → …


  • Gesture
  • embodied
  • schemas
  • mapping
  • metaphor
  • spatialization
  • timbre
  • feature
  • tracking


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