AMIS 2022: The Pervasive use of English in Electronic Music Instrument Design and its Effect on Non-native Speakers

The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) promotes better understanding of all aspects of the history, design, construction, restoration, and usage of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods. In June 2022, their annual meeting was held at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

The Pervasive use of English in Electronic Music Instrument Design and its Effect on Non-native Speakers
Pablo Dodero Carrillo

Pablo Dodero Carrillo is a musician from Tijuana, México, based in San Diego, CA. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Integrative Studies at UCSD. His areas of academic interest relate to musical instrument manufacturing in globalized markets, technical language, and creativity. His work pulls from his experience as a buyer and seller at a music instrument shop specializing in norteño and mariachi instruments, as well as the use of modular synthesis in his own practice. He is an active member of the Tijuana and San Diego DIY communities, a touring musician, and a DJ. He also contributes to Remezcla and, reviewing and showcasing Latin American experimental artists and instruments.

The technical language surrounding electronic musical instruments is continually expanding with increased popularity and use. The field’s prioritization of English, the most commonly used language among manufacturers, presents a language barrier for non-native English speakers. New generations of independent electronic music instrument developers in countries like Mexico utilize a mix of English and Spanish to label and describe the features and functions of their products. This is due to a lack of terminology in Spanish coupled with a desire to compete in the global market to reach more users. In this talk, I highlight current examples in which Mexican builders like Paradox are forced to combine languages and are actively searching for creative ways to enrich audio jargon in Spanish. Additionally, the talk will explore how this language barrier potentially stifles the creativity of electronic music instrument developers and users outside English-speaking regions.

Watch more videos from the 2022 AMIS Conference here.