SUFI PLUG INS v.1 is a free suite of digital tools for musicians, based on nonwestern notions of sound & a poetic interface. This brief explanation video shows them in action.

“it’s one of the few digital tools I’ve seen that I would also consider art. It’s a tool that is not only designed to help musicians make new sounds, but also to self-consciously influence what is produced. Interface design decisions are guided both by functionality concerns and the creative expression of its maker.” – Paddy Johnson, Art Fag City

The project is led by artist Jace Clayton. More than 10,000 people have downloaded Version 1, and they have been used in (at least) dozens of songs. Version 2 will be released in late 2013. SPIs are free to use and modify; you can support the project with a tax-deductible donation or with the purchase of a T-shirt. Clayton is available to give talks on Sufi Plug Ins. He has presented the project at Harvard University, Share Festival (Beirut), Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee’s Ableton Meetup (NYC), and they were included in the 2012 Istanbul Design Biennial.

Keep reading for more information & videos:

SUFI PLUG INS is an interdisciplinary project dedicated to exploring non-western & poetic notions of sound in interaction with alternative interfaces. SUFI PLUG INS create a space where software design, music tools, encoded spirituality, digital art, and indigenous knowledge systems overlap.

The first SUFI PLUG INS were released on May 14, 2012. SUFI PLUG INS v.1 are a free suite of seven audio software tools for Ableton Live (Max4Live). They include four software synthesizers hardwired to North African maqam scales with quartertone tuning built-in, a device called DEVOTION which lowers your computer’s volume 5 times a day during call to prayer (presets include Agnostic, Fervent, Devout), and a drone machine.

screenshot from clapping drum machine Palmas
SUFI PLUG INS are clearly labeled in the Berber script of neo-Tifinaght – ⵙⴾⵔⵓ ⵜⴰⵎⵉⵎⵔⴰⵜ. Their mysterious (to non-Amazigh users) yet intuitive layout encourages and rewards experimentation. ‘Roll-over’ infotexts contain fragments of Sufi verse. A series of SPI Instructional Videos filmed on location in Morocco function as stand-alone art pieces or instances of ‘teaching by example.’

Led by Jace Clayton (DJ Rupture), the SUFI PLUG INS development team includes programmer Bill Bowen, designer Rosten Woo, Amazigh musician Hassan Wargui , and videographers Maggie Schmitt and Juan Alcón Durán. While the 1st release is for Ableton Live users, we are working on making SUFI PLUG INS available as VSTs to ensure compatibility with Cubase, FruityLoops, and other music software widely used in Africa and the Middle East. For more background on the thoughts behind Sufi Plug Ins, check out this writeup on Clayton’s blog.

screenshot from Maqam synthesizer Bayati
A physical Sufi Plug Ins Forever Box is expected for late 2013, and Clayton is currently preparing an installation version of the Sufi Plug Ins.

screenshot from Drone instructional video
DRONE: Instructional Video

DEVOTION: Instructional Video


SUFI PLUG INS: vidéo de démonstration – version française

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