Jazzperiments JAM (STEIM residency project in 2007) is an applet you use while playing an instrument. Doing so, it isn’t hard to notice that a standard user interface of a laptop with a mouse or touchpad is not ideal in that situation (neither on pc nor on Apple). This is even more obvious during a performance. To avoid the delays and distractions caused by looking on the screen and moving the mouse, a graphical user interface with the following extras was developed:
1. Every control on the screen has a number between 01 and 99, preferably in logical groups. All numbers are shown on the controls when you hit the [/]-key.
2. All lists are numbered, all sliders and switches have a numeric value.
3. If you type the number of the control, it is selected.
4. If you double click a control, it is selected.
5. You can change the setting of a selected control with the [+] or [-] keys.
6. You can change the setting of a selected control with the scroll wheel regardless where the mouse cursor is.
7. All numbers and values as presented on screen can also be used in macro’s.
8. You can set a control by typing the number, a value and [Enter].
For example: you type: 2050[Enter]; on the screen appears 20=50 (the =-sign is added automatically); in Jazzperiments Jam control 20 is set to 50, which means the velocity of voice 2 is set to 50%.
9. You can even play notes with the numeric keys ( = C …  = Bb, [*] = B; [+] and [-] set the octaves). Especially vocalists appreciate this feature.
These additions allow a player to control a complex program (with upto 99 controls) using only a (wireless) numeric keypad. A normal keyboard is only needed for text input and a mouse isn’t needed at all, but of course using a mouse or touchpad is still possible as always.
The system proves to be especially handy to change fixed setting (like changing an instrument or switching on an effect) without even looking at the screen, while continuous or interactive settings are changed with more intuitive controllers (like a microphone in the case of Jazzperiments JAM).
For Jazzperiments JAM this live music user interface is programmed in Java, but the principles can be applied in almost any development tool and for many musical applications.
The system can be tested on http://www.jazzperiments.com, click JAM to start the Java applet. All suggestions for improvements of this experimental application are certainly appreciated and questions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be answered with pleasure.
Teun de Lange, Antwerp