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27 November 2011

Musicians and machines - exploring the future of live music

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The relationship between musicians and interactive computers will be explored in a new Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University study.

While computer technology plays a role in most areas of music production and performance, the potential for a computer to act as a live performance partner is relatively under-explored, according to lead researcher Professor Andrew Brown.

“We predict that the next wave in music development will be interactive performance with digital systems,” he said.

“Our research goal is to develop a music system that ‘listens’ to a performer and responds in real time, which is a significant step away from the passive systems which operate today.

“There is capacity for digital systems to achieve greater sophistication and to demonstrate a sense of autonomy, which will open up new avenues of musical expression.

“There is real potential for new genres of music to emerge as technology continues to expand its role and offer musicians an enhanced performance experience.”

“We see parallels between interactive music systems for the 21st century and previous performance technologies such as the saxophone that played an important role in shaping the 20th century musical genres of jazz and rock music.”

Professor Brown says the first phase of the study will investigate the role of a musical partner by examining interactions between human musicians.

“By measuring human gestures and interactions we’ll be able to transfer this knowledge to computer systems to ensure this technology can anticipate the actions and movements of human performers and intuitively respond,” he said.

Professor Brown will lead an international research team including Associate Professor Ian Whalley of the University of Waikato, New Zealand; Dr Michael Young of Goldsmiths, London; Associate Professor Francois Pachet of Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Paris and colleague Dr Toby Gifford of the Queensland Conservatorium.

The project will be funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant and will commence in early 2012.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre (QCRC) has been awarded an ARC grant.

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