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Ionic Nylon and Sonitia: Training the Ears of Gamers


In the 2004 dramedy film Sideways, a classical guitarist can be heard playing the guitar piece Recuerdos de la Alhambra in one of the Santa Ynez Valley wineries. This is a lovely piece of music, but it also unfortunately perpetuates a stereotype that many guitarists have worked hard to avoid. Filmmakers and other popular culture outlets have typecast the classical guitar as an instrument that can only produce harmonious sounds. This thesis is comprised of two different software applications that are designed to break down this stereotype: Ionic Nylon, a Virtual Studio Technology (VST) sampler and sample library that allows non-guitarist musicians to use the plentiful sounds of the nylon string guitar using MIDI controllers, and Sonitia, the proof-of-concept demonstration of an ear-training puzzle game that uses Ionic Nylon’s samples as the primary audio source.

This written portion of the thesis will outline the necessity of these two products as tools for music composition, arrangement, performance and education. Due to the intimidating nature of writing music for the guitar, new textures are rarely seen in the guitar repertory because guitarist composers tend to be stuck in idiomatic “boxes.” The well-produced samples, thorough feature list and intuitive graphical design of Ionic Nylon should help curb many of these intimidations. To reach a wider audience, gamers will play through Sonitia, a game that establishes semiotic relationships between geometric shapes and audio qualities of particular samples as rules to solve the puzzles. The game uses a striking narrative to bring music (specifically that of the nylon string guitar) to the forefront of its overall design, hopefully leaving gamers with a new positive emotional relationship between these sounds and fun.

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