Electronic music synthesizers are instruments that give the user direct control of their timbre. Synthesizers with hundreds of parameters can create thousands of unique timbres, but this complexity also hinders musicians’ ability to explore these timbres effectively. Our interview study with ten electronic musicians revealed that, while they desired unique sounds for their music, many participants lacked the understanding or motivation to program their own timbres from scratch, instead generally relying on presets. While many previous works have proposed novel interfaces for electronic music synthesis or performance, few researchers have looked at timbral exploration interfaces. Based on our formative study, we developed nine synthesizer programming interface design guidelines, with which, and a participatory design study, we developed a novel timbral exploration interface prototype. Rather than editing individual parameters or auditioning presets, our system allows the user to define and explore the timbral space within local regions. This is achieved with two modes: morphing and evolutionary. In both these modes it is possible to generate hundreds of unique timbres without the need to understand how individual parameters are changing. Using our prototype, we conducted a user study in order to observe how these tools, and the interface we developed for them, offered our participants new methods for timbre exploration, which helped them create new sounds and gain inspiration for their compositions. We witnessed how the prototype was adopted into their existing sound design and composition workflows, allowing them to create unique timbres that they could not previously access.



Zefan Sramek, Arissa J. Sato, Zhongyi Zhou, Simo Hosio, and Koji Yatani. SoundTraveller: Exploring Abstraction and Entanglement in Timbre Creation Interfaces for Synthesizers. To appear in Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2023), 2023. (paper)

Zefan Sramek, and Koji Yatani. Interactive Timbre Exploration Support for Sound Authoring with Synthesizers. Demo presentation at New Interfaces for Musical Expression 2021, June 2021. (paper)

Zefan Sramek,矢谷浩司.シンセサイザを用いた音の創作に向けたインタラ クティブな音色探索支援.情報処理学会 SIGMUS研究会,2021年6月.(paper)