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Stacco is an instrument-score specifically designed to perform with Neural Audio Synthesis (NAS) that I developed at the Intelligent Instruments Lab (IIL) together with Giacomo Lepri.

Stacco features four magnetic attractors, consisting of a miniaturised version of Thales, the first magnetic instrument I developed at IIL. The attractors are placed under Stacco's board, they contain two strong permanent magnets and a magnetometer each, and are capable of detecting two-dimensional (and optionally three-dimensional) variations in nearby magnetic fields. Stacco's four attractors combined allow the simultaneous control of up to eight continuous parameters.

The performer interacts with Stacco by throwing, displacing and combining onto its board magnetic marbles and other ferromagnetic objects, or using magnetic rings that return the tangible response of their repelling magnetic fields. By using single magnetic marbles and rings it is possible to precisely control each of the parameters; on the contrary, by creating structures with lots of marbles, or by combining them with other ferromagnetic objects, the performer can playfully interact and build on top of the instrument's unpredictable magnetic materiality.

Stacco, FM with magnetic rings

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Stacco features Bela board for embedded synthesis, but can be plugged into a laptop for more demanding applications. The latter method is used to navigate the decoder's latent space in RAVE, a Neural Synthesis model for real-time use developed by Antoine Caillon at IRCAM.

Stacco aims to provide a fun, yet precise way of exploring RAVE's latent space, and to offer an intuitive and immediate approach to composing for Neural Synthesis through the concept of Embodied Sketching, that is, the practice of embedding the score onto the instrument itself. Since the magnetic marbles do not need to touch the sensor to be detected, it is possible to place tailored pieces of cardboard or tracing paper on top of Stacco's board. As the performer finds meaningful areas and interesting performative gestures in the latent space, these can be immediately sketched on the instrument. We are now investigating how people design musical scores with RAVE through our method.

Stacco at TENOR 2024.


File size: 28.72 MB