Current Projects

Song Walker Harmony Space

Asymmetric roles v small.jpgSong Walker Harmony Space exists as a tangent from the Whole Body Harmony Space project. It is a relatively compact setup, yet still makes full use of bodily movement and gesture.

The system is suitable for use by 2–4 players simultaneously, with roles and functions being distributed among the players.

(Simon Holland, Anders Bouwer, Mat Dalgleish)

Design and Evaluation of Tangible and Multi-touch Interfaces for Collaborative Music Making

multi-touch-interfaces-TOUCHtr4ck.jpgOur research is focused on studying collaboration and musical engagement with tangible and multi-touch interfaces for collaborative music making.
Music making tends to be a social and collaborative activity, where communication and coordination between musicians play a key role for a successful collaboration. With the advent of tangible and multi-touch interfaces, novel applications have supported alternative activities compared with those present in single-user PCs. Their physical properties (e.g. size, volume, etc) and affordances, together with a switch towards a more physical interaction with digital data, are some reasons why collaborative co-located actitivies in general, and collaborative real-time music activities in particular, have been exploited on these systems.
We are looking into a formal methodology of evaluation for measuring the level of musical engagement and collaboration using these interfaces (Issues and techniques for collaborative music making), which may help informing the design process of multi-user, co-located, musical prototypes such as TOUCHtr4ck. We are also exploring the use of a theoretical framework of interaction design considerations for collaboration in musical tabletops.

(Robin Laney, Anna Xambó, Chris Dobbyn, Sergi Jordà, Mattia Schirosa)

Music Jacket

musicjacket1.pngThe Music Jacket is a system for novice violin players that helps them to learn how to hold their instrument correctly and good bowing action. We work closely with violin teachers and our system is designed to support conventional teaching methods.

We use an Animazoo IGS-190 inertial motion capture system to track the position of the violin and the trajectory of the bow. We use vibrotactile feedack to inform the student when either they are holding their violin incorrectly or their bowing trajectory has deviated from the desired path.
We are investigating whether this system motivates students to practice and improves their technique.

(Janet van der Linden, Erwin Schoonderwaldt, Rose Johnson, Jon Bird)

Algorithms to Discover Musical Patterns

Our research involves putting specific aspects of music perception, such as the discovery of certain types of musical patterns, on an algorithmic footing. The resulting algorithms are evaluated by comparison with human experts/listeners performing analogous tasks. We use disparities between algorithm output and human response to shed light on the more nuanced strategies behind human perception of music, thence to improve our models.

(Tom Collins, Robin Laney)

Harmony Space

WBHS.pngNovice improvisers typically get stuck on ‘noodling’ around individual chords, partly because they are oblivious to larger scale harmonic pathways. Harmony Space enables harmonic relationships to be represented as 2D spatial phenomena such as trajectories. When users move through the space they hear the sounds corresponding to the different locations.

Our working hypothesis is that providing tactile guidance around Harmony Space will improve musicians’ knowledge of larger scale harmonic elements such as chord progressions and thereby improve their improvisation skills.

An open research question we are investigating is whether full-body exploration of Harmony Space, for example moving around a large floor projection, brings any benefits over using a mouse and keyboard to interact with Harmony Space on a computer monitor.

(Simon Holland)

Computational Modelling of Tonality Perception

Major-12harmonics_2.jpegWe are building a psychoacoustic model of the feelings of expectation and resolution that are induced by various chord progressions and scales. The model is currently being tested by comparing its predictions to those given by participants in experimental settings. Computational Modelling of Tonality Perception.

(Andrew Milne, Robin Laney, David Sharp)

Exploring Computational Models of Rhythm Perception

vas small.jpgWe are testing rhythm perception models (including Ed Large’s non-linear dynamics model) with rhythms containing two different pulses—such as three against four rhythms found in African-derived music. Exploring Computational Models of Rhythm Perception.

(Vassilis Angelis, Simon Holland, Martin Clayton, Paul Upton)

Embodied Cognition in Music Interaction Design

titled CMJ cover.jpgIn domains such as music, technical understanding of the parameters, processes and interactions involved in defining and analysing the structure of artifacts is often restricted to domain experts. Consequently, music software is often difficult to use for those without such specialised knowledge. The present work explores how the latter problem might be addressed by drawing explicitly on domain–specific conceptual metaphors in the design of user interfaces. Using Embodied Cognition to Improve Music Interaction Design.

(Katie Wilkie, Simon Holland, Paul Mulholland).

Use of Multi-touch Surfaces for Microtonal Tunings

AS_MOS_4L,7s Notes.jpegAre there ways of laying out, in two dimensions, the tones of Western, non-Western and microtonal scales so as to make them easier to play and understand?

We seek to address this question with a novel multi-touch interface based upon the Thummer. It takes advantage of the flexibilities inherent in virtual interfaces to use dynamic transformations such as shears, rotations, and button colour changes. This allows an optimal note layout for a huge variety of microtonal (and familiar) scales to be automatically chosen. We recently presented a prototype at NIME (30 May–1 June, Oslo, Norway) Hex Player—a virtual musical controller.

(Andrew Milne, Anna Xambó, Robin Laney, David Sharp)


Leon screen.pngResulting from collaboration with the Eduardo Miranda at the University of Plymouth and visiting intern Fabien Leon, and with kind support of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at the University of Plymouth, Neurophony is a brain interface for music, incorporating the Harmony Space software.

(Fabien Leon, Eduardo Miranda, Simon Holland)

The Haptic Drum Kit

hapticdrumkit1.jpgThe Haptic Drum Kit consists of four computer-controlled vibrotactile devices, one attached to each wrist and ankle, that generate pulses to help a drummer play rhythmic patterns. One aim is to foster rhythm skills and multi-limb coordination. Another aim is to systematically develop skills in recognizing, identifying, memorizing, analyzing, reproducing and composing monophonic and polyphonic rhythms.

A pilot study compared the efficacy of audio and haptic guidance for learning to play polyphonic drum patterns of varying complexity. Although novice drummers can learn intricate drum patterns using haptic guidance alone, the study found that most subjects prefer a combination of audio and haptic signals.

The Haptic Drum kit appears to have possible applications for sufferers from Parkinsons and patients in need of multi-limb rehabilitation. We are exploring possible research partnerships to explore such applications.

The Haptic Drumkit research, including work on the Haptic Ipod is being carried out in collaboration with the Music Computing Lab, expert musicologists, drummers and music educators.

(Simon Holland, Anders Bouwer, Mat Dalgleish, Topic Hurtig)

Music and Human Computer Interaction

Holland, Simon; Wilkie, Katie; Mulholland, Paul and Seago, Allan eds. (2013). Music and Human-Computer Interaction. Springer, London. 292 pages. ISNB 1-4471-2989-X, 978-1-4471-2989-9.
Music and HCI reduced.jpg
This book, edited by members of the Music Computing Lab, presents state of the art research in Music and Human-Computer Interaction (also known as ‘Music Interaction’). Research discussed covers interactive music systems, digital and virtual musical instruments, theories, methodologies and technologies for Music Interaction. Musical activities covered include composition, performance, improvisation, analysis, live coding, and collaborative music making. Innovative approaches to existing musical activities are explored, as well as tools that make new kinds of musical activity possible. The first book in Springer's new Cultural Computing Series.

The Haptic Bracelets

The Haptic Bracelets are prototype self-contained wireless bracelets for wrists and ankles, with built-in accelerometers, vibrotactiles and processors.
haptic bass.jpg
They can work by themselves, in networked synchronised groups, or with smart phones, tablets or computers. The Haptic Bracelets are designed to be worn four at once, one on each wrist and one on each ankle, although any number from one to four may be usefully worn. A pair on ankles or wrists has a rich range of uses. The Haptic Bracelets are interactive devices for both input and output, enabling communication, processing, analysis and logging. They can be used for local or remote tactile communication between two or more wearers. Musical applications include
While originally designed for musical purposes, we are collaborating with researchers, practitioners, varied user groups and individuals to develop a range of new applications for: everyday use, navigation, musicians, stroke victims, Parkinson’s sufferers, dancers, the movement impaired, the hearing impaired and others.
(Simon Holland, Mat Dalgleish, Anders Bouwer, Maxime Canelli, Oliver Hoedl)

Completed Projects

Completed Projects Overview
The E-sense Project
New User Interfaces for Musical Timbre Design
A Computer Supported Approach Towards Collaborative and Creative Musicality in the Classroom
Aspect-Orientated Music Representation
Spatial Audio Navigation
Artificial Intelligence, Melody and Education
Knowledge Mentoring for Supporting Musical Composition Learning
PlanC: A Constraint–based Musical Planner