Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Music and Interaction Design

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Sunday 13th March 2011

  • The Music of Interaction Design

    by James Box and Cennydd Bowles

    While both music and design have theoretical underpinnings, they also share a certain ineffability. A musical masterpiece and an exceptionally crafted experience demand more than the simple application of theory. They also demand virtuosity. Designers must skilfully bring together clicks and gestures — the building blocks of interaction design — to form a meaningful experience. Although it's simple to describe these components, we often resort to vague shorthands like 'look & feel' to explain what happens at the experiential layer. Similarly, composers rely on formalised technique to write music; yet ask what makes a piece remarkable and the answer will be similarly nebulous. In this session, we will examine parallels between music and interaction design, including harmony, genre, rhythm, fashion and emotion. Along the way, we will learn how that which defies easy definition can elevate digital and musical works from good to miraculous.

    1. Why do some interactions and some pieces of music—even when they seemingly 'obey' all the rules—still feel wrong?
    2. What is it about music that provokes such a profound emotional response and how can designers learn from it?
    3. Why, despite all expectations, the overflow of information can actually be a rather lovely experience.
    4. Why does innovation actually feel bad?
    5. And finally, just what is 'The Brown Noise'?

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 13th March

    In Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center

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