Virtual in the Making

Wednesday 26th, August 2020, 15:00 - 16:00 hrs.

Gametrak Controller: A Virtual Musical Instrument and the Realisation of ‘Sound Capsule’

Poumpak Charuprakorn
Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Gametrak Controller is a game controller designed in the early 2000s for games on a console platform. Because of the tactility of the position tracking system of its tethers, many laptop orchestras and ensembles have been exploring its potentials and designing programmes which transform this gestural device into various virtual musical instruments. A collaboration with the Swansea Laptop Orchestra in 2018 led me to incorporate external devices into my electroacoustic compositions. Having conducted further research on the controller itself and how different ensembles work with the device, I discovered a vast array of possibilities to translate data into sounds and transform gestures captured by the controller into music. With the help of various conditional logics in a computer programme, a Gametrak Controller can become any musical instrument, within and beyond our imagination.

In the first section of this paper, I explain the controller and its brief history, including experiments conducted by others on the translation of data into music. In the second section, I discuss my use of the gestural device in my composition Sound Capsule, an imaginary soundscape realised in live performance by using the positions of sound samples and a performer within a virtual space.


Poumpak Charuprakorn, a Thai composer and tubist whose passion in music originated from his involvement in Siamyth Drum and Bugle Corps and Chulalongkorn University Demonstration School Marching Band, where he was taught by Nattawut Tianpolkrang, Jinnawat Mansap, and Supat Kaewkulvanich. He further attended the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) and obtained his Bachelor of Fine and Applied Arts in Western Music (Composition) with first-class honours (gold medal) in 2012. During the undergraduate years, he studied composition with Professor Weerachat Premananda and Professor Narongrit Dhamabutra while concurrently having tuba lessons with Manit Buchachanok. As a professional tubist, Poumpak has performed with many orchestras and ensembles in Thailand. He is still an active performer and regularly performs with Burry Port Town Band (first-section British brass band). He is also a co-founder of the Hooting Cow Collective in which he and his colleagues aim to explore contemporary classical music together without any boundaries between performer-composer.

Poumpak’s compositions have been read and performed in Thailand, Europe, and North America. His composition ‘Lament’ won first prize in Siam Sinfonietta Young Composers’ Competition in 2012. In 2013, Poumpak was granted a scholarship by the Office of Higher Education Commission of Thailand to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in music. He began his first graduate study at the Royal College of Music (London) in the following year. At the conservatoire, he had composition lessons with Dr Haris Kittos and the academic supervision by Dr Jonathan Cole. He later received the Master of Music in Composition at the end of 2015. In 2016, Poumpak started pursuing a doctoral degree at Cardiff University under the supervision of Professor Arlene Sierra. While residing in Cardiff, he had the opportunities, both within and outside of Cardiff, to work with many professional musicians and ensembles. He also participated in Welsh National Opera Youth Opera Project, ilSuono Academy of Young Composers (Citta di Castello, Italy) 2017, Valencia International Performance Academy and Festival 2018, Bangor Music Festival 2019, and Toronto Contemporary Music Lab 2019. He also had lessons with Professor Dieter Mack, Professor Nicola Lefanu, Simone Movio, Nicolas Tzortzis, Jorge Grossman, Lei Liang, and Stefano Gervasoni.

Poumpak has also been active as an academic researcher and received a Highly Commended in the Arts prize from the Anglo-Thai Society Academic Excellence Award for his doctoral research project. He has presented his research and compositions in several academic conferences such as Cardiff University School of Music Study Day, Breaking Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Conference for Humanities and Social Sciences, and the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference. During his study in Cardiff, he was also a graduate tutor responsible for modules in composition, music theory, and studio techniques. He has completed a course and currently awaits the Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

Poumpak was recently awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Music (Composition). He is currently collaborating with two other Cardiff-based artists in National Theatre Wales Located Residencies project ‘Back to the Land’.