Brief History of Jam-O-World

The Jam-O-Rama project began in July 1998 at Interval Research to explore new ways for people to make music collaboratively. Inspired by experiences of communal music making in non-western cultures, Tina Blaine led a creative team in the development of an interactive drumming table known as the "Jam-O-Drum". This device allows groups of people with or without previous musical knowledge to have shared audiovisual experiences by integrating interactive music elements via MIDI with real-time video and computer graphics projections in a collaborative environment. Exploring this medium as a way to achieve community music making experiences and to encourage spontaneous, unselfconscious behavior has been a focus of her work.

The original goals of the Jam-O-Drum project were:

           To explore music and motion in graphics
           To make collective musical experiences available to novices
           To experiment with different musical and visual styles
           To bring a group of people together for a collaborative approach to music-making
           To inspire physical movement and unselfconscious behavior in the players

From these objectives, the community drum circle emerged as a metaphor to guide the form and content of the team's work at Interval. Bringing people together to explore rhythmical music in which every person has an equal position as observer and participant became the context for audiovisual improvisation. Another important element of this work included the integration of universal design concepts for accessibility and usability.

Rather than creating an immersive musical environment with a projection display on a wall, the team focused on creating a shared physical object that people could gather around. In effect, turning the immersive space "inside-out". The original Jam-O-Drum prototype design incorporated six drum pads in a seven foot diameter circular table used as an integrated video projection surface.

The Jam-O-Drum has been exhibited at SIGGRAPH's Emerging Technologies and a version that scales from 6 - 12 players is currently on exhibition at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. A smaller prototype of the Jam-O-Drum has recently become part of the Entertainment Technology Center's Curriculum.

At the Entertainment Technology Center, students work with Tina to develop new experiences for the Jam-O-Drum. The students' interests include a focus on collaboration through music and gaming. The students are also encouraged to think about the development of new input devices to augment and/or replace the MIDI drum pads in order to extend the possibilities of interaction.

One of the input devices under development is a turntable that incorporates an optical encoder that records the direction the players turn the disks. This recent edition of the Jam-O-Drum is called the Jam-O-Whirl.

In order to have better clarification between the Jam-O-Drum and the Jam-O-Whirl devices and interaction designs, the students and Tina conceived of Jam-O-World as the overarching name for the different versions of this multi-player instrument.

Throughout the process of creating and developing new experiences for Jam-O-World, the students of the Entertainment Technology Center still try to remain true to the original goals and mission of the Jam-O-Drum, as specified above.

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