CIRMMT Symposium on Force Feedback and Music

Dec 9-10, 2016. See the symposium website for more information and for registration.cirmmt_logo2005onlyhi

Though haptics research in music is a very active research field, it seems presently dominated by tactile interfaces, due in part to the widespread availability of vibrotactile feedback in portable devices. Though not recent—with some of its early contributions dating back to the end of the 70s—research on force-feedback in musical applications has traditionally suffered from exogenous issues such as hardware cost, as well as the lack of community-wide accessibility to software and hardware platforms for prototyping musical applications. Despite this situation, in recent years several works have addressed this topic proposing software platforms and simulation models.

This symposium will discuss the current state of research and future trends on force-feedback and music (FF&M).


  • Bret Battey, De Montfort University, England
  • Edgar Berdahl, Louisiana State University, USA
  • Christian Frisson, Inria Lille, France
  • Alexandros Kontogeorgakopoulos, Cardiff School of Art and Design, Wales [on career break]
  • James Leonard, Grenoble, France
  • Joseph Malloch, Dalhousie University, Canada
  • Julian Neri, McGill University, Canada
  • Thomas Pietrzak, Université Lille 1, France
  • Ian Sinclair, MPB Technologies Inc, Canada
  • Stephen Sinclair, Inria, Chile
  • Marcelo Wanderley, IDMIL/CIRMMT, McGill University, Canada

Article published in MTAP

Now available online: Malloch, J., Sinclair, S., M. M. Wanderley. Distributed tools for interactive design of heterogeneous signal networks. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 73(2),  2014. DOI: 10.1007/s11042-014-1878-5

We introduce libmapper, an open source, cross-platform software library for flexibly connecting disparate interactive media control systems at run-time. This library implements a minimal, openly-documented protocol meant to replace and improve on existing schemes for connecting digital musical instruments and other interactive systems, bringing clarified, strong semantics to system messaging and description. We use automated discovery and message translation instead of imposed system-representation standards to approach “plug-and-play” usability without sacrificing design flexibility. System modularity is encouraged, and data are transported between peers without centralized servers.

Ph.D. dissertation

My Ph.D. dissertation A Framework and Tools for Mapping of Digital Musical Instruments is available – contact me if you would like an electronic copy.

Digital musical instruments (DMIs) are typically composed of an interface using some type of sensor technology, and real-time media synthesis algorithms running on a digital computer. The connections between various input signals from performer interaction and the parameters of synthesis must be artificially associated – this mapping of gesture to sound or other media defines the behaviour of the system as a whole. Mapping design is a challenging and sometimes frustrating process.

In this dissertation, the design and implementation of an open-source, cross-platform software library and several related tools for supporting the mapping task are presented. These tools are designed to provide discovery and interconnection between parts of DMIs and other interactive systems, and to achieve compatibility through translation and transformation of data representations rather than imposing representation standards. The control parameters of software and hardware devices compliant with libmapper can be freely interconnected without requiring any intended mutual compatibility.

Among the unique features presented is support for mapping between systems that include entities with multiple instances with dynamic lifetimes, systems which would usually require bespoke programming. A formalization of the problem is described, and several examples of real-world applications are outlined.

Finally, use-cases for the mapping tools are presented in-depth: the design, development and use of novel digital musical instruments for live performance.