The BOEUF project aims to research and promote advanced musical collaboration between musicians using digital musical instruments (DMIs).
DMIs expand upon the collaboration possibilities that were available with traditional acoustic instruments, allowing musicians to use digital networks to interconnect their instruments, share audio and control data, synchronise their tempo, exchange messages and so on.
These capabilities are not especially new. Musicians such as The League of Automatic Music Composers and The Hub began experimenting with digitally-connected musical instruments in the 1970's. And contemporary digital musicians continue to use and expand these modes of collaboration.
However, we have found that in order to access these advanced modes of collaboration, musicians often end up creating their own custom software systems, in effect re-inventing the wheel! This may be because there is no easily-accessible and standard framework for enabling advanced musical collaboration. This lack is impeding creativity and music-making!
Our project aims to facilitate advanced musical collaboration through the following activities:
- We have proposed a theoretical framework that can be used when analysing, designing and implementing networked ensembles with a variety of collaboration modes.
- We have developed bf-pd, a set of software components running in Pure Data, which musicians and makers can integrate into their digital instruments and systems. Bf-pd allows musicians to share parameters and output data between instruments, to control each other’s instruments, to synchronize between instruments, to visualize each other’s activity, and to exchange messages.
- We are conducting research on mixed-reality interfaces to improve non-mediated (i.e. in-person) collaboration between musicians, and to enable them access the advanced musical collaboration modes offered by our framework. These interfaces will allow musicians to preserve both the existing control interfaces of their instruments and the physicality of their performance, and would improve spectators' ability to perceive the musical exchanges (thereby improving visibility).
The Boeuf project is led by Dr Florent Berthaut at the Université de Lille, France, and by Dr Luke Dahl at the University of Virginia, USA.
[FYI, Bœuf is French slang for jam session. BOEUF is the name of our project. It is also a recursive acronym for BOEUF OrchEstra Unification Framework. The pronunciation is a crossfade between "buff" and "boof."]