My research lays in the intersection between Human Computer Interaction and Music Technology. I study the relation between musicians and technologies, including elements of design, philosophy, and human perception and cognition. A selection of some of my recent projects follows.
Musical instrument design critique
Many new digital musical instruments (DMIs) are created every year but few have achieved lasting impact beyond the first few performances. Acknowledging this limitation, we explored design and performance practices of DMI designers and performers and proposed design practices that should be followed to facilitate a prolonged use of musical instrument. The outcome of this project highlighted factors that future designers can use to make their designs more enduring, and pitfalls they can avoid.
Design for virtuosity
This project aims to repurpose the existing expertise of trained musicians in the design of new DMIs, so that new creative possibilities are offered without requiring thousands of hours of retraining. The initial part of the project addresses this issue from the perspective of repurposing sensorimotor skills that musicians traditionally use. In particular, at expert level, the instrument becomes transparent to the performer: the bodily operations of manipulating the instrument become automatic, so the performer’s full attention can focus on the action of creating music. We performed a series of experimental studies with expert musicians aimed to identify the extent to which the structure of the instrument can be altered before this transparency effect fades away. This project is part of the Design for virtuosity EPSRC research grant EP/N005112/1. Learn more
Human-Machine creative partnership
In the context of music performance Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been employed to develop agents that can autonomously control aspects of the performance. Of particular interest to this project are those systems in which the musical output is the product of AI-human interaction, which has been shown to stimulate sparks of human creativity that extend the range of what is musically possible. To utilise this potential, a thorough understanding of musician experience when performing with AI agents is necessary but currently missing. Additionally, the adoption of these systems is so far limited to a small niche of musicians with advanced expertise in AI. This project aims to address these issues by (i) identifying musicians’ creative experiences when performing with such a system and the characteristics of the AI agents that foster these experiences; and (ii) allowing more musicians to access this creative potential by repurposing their existing skills when interacting with the AI agents.