So I've broken the task of building this loom down into a few categories of attack:
Loom (building + augmentation of...)
Hardware (sensors, circuits)
Software (music mapping and programming)
This week I took on a few of the tasks under the Software header. I mapped out how I would use the loom for actual sound production and worked on some test patches in max/msp.
I also decided on what kinds of sounds I am going to produce. I'm going with deep synthy sounds, contrasted with fuzzy, crackly, scratchy sounds. Although it's nothing I'm completely intentionally doing, I'm well aware that many of the sounds I'm going with reference wool, hair, and other organic fibers.
As far as mapping goes, I'm tentatively going with this plan: I'd like the warp (vertical strands) to alter the sounds I've already laid on the canvas (which will be controlled by the weft, or the horizontal strands). The shuttle will either operate as a beat keeper, or it will act as some kind of interrupt as it slides across the warp. Actually, it will become percussive by default, as it affects the warp threads. I'd also like to have panning mapped literally going from left to right across the loom.
This next week, I want to continue working on my patches. The max/msp part feels like the largest challenge so far, since it is the part I'm the least familiar with. I will also try to build out a 'test loom', which will just be warp and weft threads hand-laid out so I can try to mock up what I ultimately want to do with the final loom.
The biggest challenge is working with max/msp. I'm fairly new to this program, and it can seem like a beast, and therefore hard to get started with. I'm overwhelmed by what I can potentially do, and by deciding what I exactly need to do. For now, I'm just accepting midi-data in from a test circuit, and producing sounds with that data.