In this paper, we reflect on our experience of designing, developing and evaluating interactive spaces for collaborative creativity. In particular, we are interested in designing spaces which allow everybody to compose and play original music. The Music Room is an interactive installation where couples can compose original music by moving in the space. Following the metaphor of love, the music is automatically generated and modulated in terms of pleasantness and intensity, according to the proxemics cues extracted from the visual tracking algorithm. The Music Room was exhibited during the EU Researchers’ Night in Trento, Italy.
Current systems aiming at facilitating and extending musical expression typically rely on concepts that non-musicians can hardly comprehend. To attract such users, different interaction metaphors laying outside of the musical domain need to be considered. This study is a step towards the definition of a new class of interfaces for musical expression that targets non-musicians and is centered on experience and performance of the users; we analyze the design requirements and present the current development state of our proposed system.
The last decades have witnessed a significant growth of interest in in- teractive systems that allow the audience to alter the auditory content of an art- work. Generally, the artwork itself is the primary goal of the artist, who arbitrarily maps audience behaviours into musical output following their personal aesthetic. However, given this subjective interpretation, the musical output might not meet audience’s expectations. In this paper we discuss a new model for automatic mu- sic expression that mediates audience’s intentionality. The audience interacts with the system through semantic descriptors (e.g. emotions, movements, narratives), while an algorithm processes this information and returns it to the listeners in the form of semantically coherent music.
In this paper, we reflect on the evaluation of The Music Room, an interactive installation that was designed with the aim of allowing everybody to experience musical creativity. Couples entering The Music Room can compose original piano music by moving throughout the space. The metaphor of emotion mediates the interaction between people's behaviour and an algorithmic composer. Specifically, the distance between people and their average speed map the emotionality of music: distance influences the pleasantness of the music, while speed influences the intensity. This paper focuses on the off-line analysis of the player experience exploiting log-data and video analysis, as well as on subjective evaluations collected through interviews and questionnaires collected in two public exhibitions of the installation. We elaborate on this data to understand how players appropriated the original design idea and which factors contributed to fun and engagement. Reconsidering our design assumptions against behavioural data, we notice a number of unexpected behaviours. Elaborating on them, we contribute some reflection on the design of musical interfaces and the understanding of visitors' engagement.
Music making is among the activities that best fulfil a person’s full potential, but it is also one of the most complex and exclusive: successful music making requires study and dedication, combined with a natural aptitude that only gifted individuals possess. This thesis proposes new design solutions to reproduce the human ability to make music. It offers insights to provide the general public with novel experiences of music making by exploring a different interactive metaphor. Emotions are proposed as a mediator of musical meanings: an algorithmic composer is developed to generate new music, and the player can interact with the composition, controlling the desired levels of the composition’s emotional character. The adequacy of this metaphor is tested with the case study of The Music Room, an interactive installation that allows visitors to influence the emotional aspect of an original classical style musical composition by means of body movements. This thesis addresses research questions and performs exploratory studies that are grounded in and contribute to different fields of research, including musical interface design, algorithmic composition, and psychology of music. The thesis presents MINUET, a conceptual framework for the design of musical interfaces, and the Music Room, an example of interactive installation based on the emotional metaphor. The Music Room was the result of a two-year iteration of design and evaluation cycles that informed an operational definition of the concept of engagement with interactive art. New methods for evaluating visitors’ experience based on the integration of evidences from different user-research techniques are also presented. As regards the field of algorithmic composition, the thesis presents Robin, a rule-based algorithmic affective composer, and a study to test its validity in eliciting different emotions in listeners (N=33). Valence (positive vs. negative) and arousal (high vs. low) were manipulated in a 2*2 within-subjects design. Results showed that Robin correctly elicited valence and arousal in converging conditions (high valence, high arousal and low valence, low arousal). However, in cases of diverging conditions (high valence, low arousal and low valence, high arousal), valence received neutral values. As regards the psychology of music, this thesis contributes new evidence to the on-going debate about the innate or learned nature of musical competence, defined as the ability to recognise emotion in music. Results of an experimental study framed within Russell’s two-dimensional theory of emotion suggest that musical competence is not affected by training when listeners are required to evaluate arousal (dictated by variations of tempo). The evaluation of valence (dictated by the combination of tempo and mode), however, was found to be more complicated, highlighting a difference in the evaluation of musical excerpts when tempo and mode conveyed diverging emotional information. In this debate, Robin is proposed as a suitable tool for future experimental research as it allows the manipulation of individual musical factors.
This paper presents The Music Room, an interactive installation where couples compose original music. The music is generated by Robin, an automatic composition system, according to relative distance between the users and the speed of their own movements. Proximity maps the pleasantness of music, while speed maps its intensity. The Music Room was exhibited during the EU Researchers' Night in Trento, where it met with a strong interest by visitors.