A New HOPE (2022): "void loop () - Minecraft as My Musical Instrument" (Download)
Friday, July 22, 2022: 7:00 pm (Little Theatre): void loop() is a collection of performances in an elaborate Minecraft world. Audio from the game is routed through Ableton Live for some live looping and other antics. This collection of pieces takes place in the Minecraft void biome. The title is a reference to the biome, the looping techniques Ramon uses, and the Arduino function: the Arduino IDE was used to program a Teensy 3.2 board that a Twitch audience can use to control his Minecraft character. Chat users can enter commands like !left and !right to turn his character at times during the performance.
In addition to using widely available Minecraft mods and resource/data packs, void loop () harnesses the power of Ableton Live and Max for Live for both signal processing and game control. Movement can easily be triggered by elements like MIDI messages or audio envelope following. Furthermore, Ableton Live and Max for Live can be extended using script-oriented objects (ClyphX Pro and node.js), making for an incredibly connected environment.
Finally, the video signal from Minecraft can be processed in novel ways using color keying. Specifically, void loop () turns part of the world into a "green screen." Additional video processing happens in VDMX, a real-time video processing environment with sound reactivity and MIDI/OSC connectivity.
The development of these performances has led Ramon to develop numerous projects with his students at UMass Lowell (UML) that involve Minecraft as an immersive and collaborative musical instrument. In-game logic, scripting, and hackability foster a musically conducive environment where composers and performers can collaborate on highly expressive works. While these projects were created as part of the Contemporary Electronic Ensemble, they led to the creation of UML's Video Game Ensemble where ultimately any game could be used as an instrument.