Andrew McPherson's research while affiliated with Queen Mary, University of London and other places

Publications (102)

Article
This article explores the ways specific hardware and software technologies influence the design of musical instruments. We present the outcomes of a compositional game in which music technologists created simple instruments using common sensors and the Pure Data programming language. We identify a clustering of stylistic approaches and design patte...
Preprint
FM Synthesis is a well-known algorithm used to generate complex timbre from a compact set of design primitives. Typically featuring a MIDI interface, it is usually impractical to control it from an audio source. On the other hand, Differentiable Digital Signal Processing (DDSP) has enabled nuanced audio rendering by Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) that...
Article
This article reports on an interview-based study with ten sound artists and composers, all engaged in situated sonic practices. We propose that these artists engage the ear and shape possible interactions with the artwork by altering the relationship between sound, the space in which it is heard and the people who hear it. Our interviews probe the...
Article
Full-text available
On several keyboard instruments the produced sound is not always dependent exclusively on a discrete key-velocity parameter, and minute gestural details can affect the final sonic result. By contrast, variations in articulation beyond velocity have normally no effect on the produced sound when the keyboard controller uses the MIDI standard, used in...
Preprint
Full-text available
On several keyboard instruments the produced sound is not always dependent exclusively on a discrete key velocity parameter and minute gestural details can affect the final sonic result. By contrast, variations in articulation beyond velocity have normally no effect on the produced sound when the keyboard controller uses the MIDI standard, used in...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The nature of digital musical instruments (DMIs), often bespoke artefacts devised by single or small groups of technologists, requires thought about how they are shared and archived so that others can replicate or adapt designs. The ability for replication contributes to an instrument’s longevity and creates opportunities for both DMI designers and...
Chapter
We present The Large Instrument Performers Study, an interview-based exploration into how large scale acoustic instrument performers navigate the instrument’s size-related aesthetic features during the performance. Through the conceptual frameworks of embodied music cognition and affordance theory, we discuss how the themes that emerged in the inte...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In the field of human computer interaction (HCI) the limitations of prototypes as the primary artefact used in research have been noted. Prototypes often remain open in their design , are partially-finished, and have a focus on a specific aspect of interaction. Previous authors have proposed 're-search products' as a specific category of artefact d...
Conference Paper
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So far, NIME research has been mostly inward-looking, dedicated to divulging and studying our own work and having limited engagement with trends outside our community. Though musical instruments as cultural artefacts are inherently political, we have so far not sufficiently engaged with confronting these themes in our own research. In this paper we...
Article
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It is widely accepted that acoustic and digital musical instruments shape the cognitive processes of the performer on both embodied and conceptual levels, ultimately influencing the structure and aesthetics of the resulting performance. In this article we examine the ways in which computer music languages might similarly influence the aesthetic dec...
Conference Paper
Interaction design research typically differentiates processes involving hardware and software tools as being led by tinkering and play, versus engineering and conceptualisation. Increasingly however, embedded maker tools and platforms require hybridisation of these processes. In the domain of digital musical instrument (DMI) design, we were motiva...
Conference Paper
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This paper explores the process by which designers come to terms with an unfamiliar and ambiguous sensor material. Drawing on craft practice and material-driven interaction design, we developed a simple yet flexible sensor technology based on the movement of conductive elements within a magnetic field. Variations in materials and structure give ris...
Conference Paper
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The design of a new technology entails the materialisation of values emerging from the specific community, culture and context in which that technology is created. Within the domain of musical interaction, HCI research often examines new digital tools and technologies which can carry unstated cultural assumptions. This paper takes a step back to pr...
Conference Paper
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This paper introduces the Magpick, an augmented pick for electric guitar that uses electromagnetic induction to sense the motion of the pick with respect to the permanent magnets in the guitar pickup. The Magpick provides the guitarist with nuanced control of the sound that coexists with traditional plucking-hand technique. The paper presents three...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Disabled people face many barriers to access in all areas of life, including creative expression. With music making, a lack of accessible instruments can be a major barrier, as well as environmental factors. The Strummi is an accessible instrument based on the guitar, designed as a technology probe to explore the technical and cultural role of guit...
Conference Paper
Failure is a common artefact of challenging experiences, a fact of life for interactive systems but also a resource for aesthetic and improvisational performance. We present a study of how three professional pianists performed an interactive piano composition that included playing hidden codes within the music so as to control their path through th...
Article
Full-text available
Playing with correct intonation is one of the major challenges for a string player. A player must learn how to physically reproduce a target pitch, but before that, the player must learn what correct intonation is. This requires audiation- the aural equivalent of visualization- of every note along with self-assessment whether the pitch played match...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we present a genetic programming system that evolves the music composition process rather than the musical product. We model the composition process using a Turing-complete virtual register machine, which renders musical pieces. These are evaluated using a series of fitness tests, which judge their statistical similarity against a cor...
Chapter
Designing musical instruments to make performance accessible to novice musicians is a goal which long predates digital technology. However, just in the space of the past 6 years, dozens of instrument designs have been introduced in various academic venues and in commercial crowdfunding campaigns. In this paper, we draw comparisons in design, evalua...
Chapter
This is the introductory chapter of a book dedicated to new research in, and emerging new understandings of, music and human-computer interaction—known for short as music interaction. Music interaction research plays a key role in innovative approaches to diverse musical activities, including performance, composition, education, analysis, productio...
Chapter
Steve Benford is Professor of Collaborative Computing at the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham. His research interests span creative and cultural applications of computing, from interactive art to mainstream entertainment, with a particular focus on new interaction techniques. He has over twenty years experience of collaborat...
Chapter
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Bill Verplank is an interaction designer educated at Stanford and MIT in Mechanical Engineering (Design and Man-Machine Systems). He did user testing at Xerox (“Star”), interaction design at IDTWO (now IDEO), research at Interval. He has taught design at MIT, Stanford (ME, Music, CS), ACM-SIGCHI, NIME, IDII (Ivrea), CIID (Copenhagen).
Article
Full-text available
Extensive training with a musical instrument results in the automatisation of the bodily operations needed to manipulate the instrument: the performer no longer has to consciously think about the instrument while playing. The ability of the performer to automate operations on the instrument is due to sensorimotor mechanisms that can predict changes...
Preprint
Full-text available
ASYNCHRONY BETWEEN TACTILE AND AUDITORY feedback (action-sound latency) when playing a musical instrument is widely recognized as disruptive to musical performance. In this paper we present a study that assesses the effects of delayed auditory feedback on the timing accuracy and judgments of instrument quality for two groups of participants: profes...
Article
Full-text available
Smart musical instruments are a class of IoT devices for music making, which encompass embedded intelligence as well as wireless connectivity. In previous work, we established design requirements for a novel smart musical instrument, a smart cajón, following a user-centered approach. This paper describes the implementation and technical evaluation...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper explores the role of materiality in Digital Musical Instruments and questions the influence of tacit understand-ings of sensor technology. Existing research investigates the use of gesture, physical interaction and subsequent parameter mapping. We suggest that a tacit knowledge of the 'sensor layer' brings with it definitions, understand...
Poster
Full-text available
We explore the role of materiality in DMIs and question the influence of tacit understandings of sensor technology. We suggest that a tacit knowledge of the 'sensor layer' brings with it understandings and expectations that guide our approach to interaction. We argue that the influence of technology starts before a sound is made, and comes from not...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The design of traditional musical instruments is a process of incremental refinement over many centuries of innovation. As a result, the shape and form of instruments are well established and recognised across cultures. Conversely, digital musical instruments (DMIs), being unconstrained by requirements of efficient acoustic sound production and er-...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper presents a study examining the effects of disflu-ent design on audience perception of digital musical instrument (DMI) performance. Disfluency, defined as a barrier to effortless cognitive processing, has been shown to generate better results in some contexts as it engages higher levels of cognition. We were motivated to determine if dis...
Conference Paper
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An oft-cited aspiration of digital musical instrument (DMI) design is to create instruments, in the words of Wessel and Wright, with a 'low entry fee and no ceiling on virtuosity'. This is a difficult task to achieve: many new instruments are aimed at either the expert or amateur musician, with few instruments catering for both. There is often a ba...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The term 'NIME'-New Interfaces for Musical Expression-has come to signify both technical and cultural characteristics. Not all new musical instruments are NIMEs, and not all NIMEs are defined as such for the sole ephemeral condition of being new. So, what are the typical characteristics of NIMEs and what are their roles in performers' practice? Is...
Conference Paper
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In digital musical instrument design, different tools and methods offer a variety of approaches for constraining the exploration of musical gestures and sounds. Toolkits made of modular components usefully constrain exploration towards simple, quick and functional combinations, and methods such as sketching and model-making alternatively allow imag...
Article
Full-text available
Smart Instruments are a novel family of musical instruments that embed sensors, actuators, wireless connectivity, and semantic audio technologies. This paper reports the findings of a participatory design approach to develop a Smart Cajón, a box-shaped percussion instrument with Internet of Musical Things components. Five initial co-design sessions...
Conference Paper
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Though laptop live coders are known to use other devices and instruments and play with other musicians, laptop live coding generally shares the common physical interface of the QWERTY keyboard. This project seeks to provide a means to explore alternatives to the QWERTY keyboard as a physical interface to laptop live coding. We present a live coding...
Article
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The Hammond organ is one of earliest electronic instruments and is still used widely in contemporary popular music. One of its main sonic features is the “key-click,” a transient that occurs upon note onset, caused by the mechanical bouncing of the nine electric contacts actuated during each key press. A study of the dynamic mechanical behaviour of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper explores the relative effect of gesture size on audience perception of digital musical instrument (DMI) performance. In a study involving a total audience of 28 people (split into 2 groups of 13 and 15), we used a small and large version of a DMI to examine how the size of perform-ers' gestures might differ, and how this affects post-hoc...
Conference Paper
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This paper presents a methodology for the study of audience perception of live performances, using a combined approach of post-hoc and real-time data. We conducted a study that queried audience enjoyment and their perception of error in digital musical instrument (DMI) performance. We collected quantitative and qualitative data from the participant...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Implementing an understandable, accessible and e↵ective user interface is a major challenge for many products in the microcontroller and embedded computing community. Bela, an embedded system for ultra-low latency audio and sensor processing, features a browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) using web technologies (Node.js, HTML5 an...
Poster
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Many digital musical instrument design frameworks have been proposed that are well suited for analysis and comparison. However, not all provide applicable design suggestions, especially where subtle, important details are concerned. Using traditional lutherie as a model, we conducted a series of interviews to explore how violin makers “go beyond th...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper presents an observational study of the interaction of professional percussionists with a simplified hand percussion instrument. We reflect on how the sound-producing gestural language of the percussionists developed over the course of an hour session, focusing on the elements of their gestural vocabulary that remained in place at the end...
Article
This paper presents a prototype system for adapting the bass guitar for one-handed musicians. We discuss existing solutions to accessible musical instruments, followed by the results of an online survey of bass guitarists, which informed the design of a prototype bass guitar adaptation. The adaptation comprises a foot-operated MIDI controller with...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This half-day workshop will explore the craft of digital musical instrument design. Craft practice is central to the working process of both acoustic and digital instrument builders. Unlike the higher-level NIME design frameworks and tax-onomies that appear in the literature, craft knowledge is often personal, subjective, and occasionally difficult...
Conference Paper
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Every new edition of NIME brings dozens of new DMIs and the feeling that only a few of them will eventually break through. Previous work tried to address this issue with a deductive approach by formulating design frameworks; we addressed this issue with a inductive approach by elaborating on successes and failures of previous DMIs. We contacted 97...
Conference Paper
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We present an attachment for the bass guitar which allows MIDI-controlled actuated fretting. This instrument adaptation is presented as a potential method of augmenting the bass guitar for those with upper-limb disabilities. Following a survey of 48 bassists, we found that timbral and dynamic features related to the plucking hand were most importan...
Conference Paper
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Research on musical instrument design suggests that deliberate constraints can offer new creative experiences to the performer. At times, design constraints are physically embedded in the instrument to limit the interaction possibilities ; in other cases the constraints are given by delegating part of the control to the machine. In this paper we pr...
Conference Paper
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This position paper discusses toolkits for creating digital musical instruments. Musical interaction imposes stringent technical requirements on interactive systems, including high spatial and temporal precision and low latency. Social and community factors also play an important role in musical interface toolk-its, including design sharing and the...
Conference Paper
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This paper reflects on the dynamics and practices of building a maker community around a new hardware platform. We ex- amine the factors promoting the successful uptake of a maker platform from two perspectives: first, we investigate the tech- nical and user experience considerations that users identify as the most important. Second, we explore the...
Article
Traveling wave control is a technique in which the energy propagating around a structure in the form of waves can be manipulated directly in order to change the overall dynamic behaviour of the structure. In this research, traveling wave control is applied to a musical instrument string with a view to affecting the timbre of the sounds produced by...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Expression in musical practice is inextricably tied to the touch of the performer. In digital musical instruments (DMIs) the relationship of touch to sound is indirect: the nuances and fine detail of performer control can be flattened and limited during the translation of physical gesture to physical sound. The locus of this research is in the cont...
Chapter
Capacitive touch sensing is increasingly used in musical controllers, particularly those based on multi-touch screen interfaces. However, in contrast to the venerable piano-style keyboard, touch screen controllers lack the tactile feedback many performers find crucial. This paper presents an augmentation system for acoustic and electronic keyboards...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
When designing digital musical instruments the importance of low and consistent action-to-sound latency is widely accepted. This paper investigates the effects of latency (0- 20ms) on instrument quality evaluation and performer inter- action. We present findings from an experiment conducted with musicians who performed on an percussive digital musi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper proposes a new class of augmented musical instruments, "Smart Instruments", which are characterized by embedded computational intelligence, bidirectional wireless connectivity, an embedded sound delivery system, and an onboard system for feedback to the player. Smart Instruments bring together separate strands of augmented instrument, ne...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The importance of low and consistent latency in interactive music systems is well-established. So how do commonly-used tools for creating digital musical instruments and other tangible interfaces perform in terms of latency from user action to sound output? This paper examines several common configurations where a microcontroller (e.g. Arduino) or...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This workshop will explore the potential creation of a community database of digital musical instrument (DMI) designs. In other research communities, reproducible research practices are common, including open-source software, open datasets, established evaluation methods and community standards for research practice. NIME could benefit from similar...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper explores the roles of technical and musical familiarity in shaping audience response to digital musical instrument (DMI) performances. In an audience study conducted during an evening concert, we examined two primary questions. First, whether a deeper understanding of how a DMI works increases an audience's enjoyment and interest in the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This workshop will explore the potential creation of a community database of digital musical instrument (DMI) designs. In other research communities, reproducible research practices are common, including open-source software, open datasets, established evaluation methods and community standards for research practice. NIME could benefit from similar...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Bela is an embedded platform for ultra-low latency audio and sensor processing. We present here the hardware and software features of Bela with particular focus on its integration with Pure Data. Sensor inputs on Bela are sampled at audio rate, which opens to the possibility of doing signal processing using Pure Data's audio-rate objects.
Conference Paper
This paper explores the design of digital musical instruments (DMIs) for exploratory play. Based on Gaver’s principles of ludic design, we examine the ways in which people come to terms with an unfamiliar musical interface. We describe two workshops with the D-Box, a DMI designed to be modified and hacked by the user. The operation of the D-Box is...
Conference Paper
Music is an evolutionarily deep-rooted, abstract, real-time, complex, non-verbal, social activity. Consequently, interaction design in music can be a valuable source of challenges and new ideas for HCI. This workshop will reflect on the latest research in Music and HCI (Music Interaction for short), with the aim of strengthening the dialogue betwee...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present a study investigating the impact of dynamic tactile feedback on performer navigation of a continuous pitch space on a digital musical instrument. Ten musicians performed a series of blind pitch selection and melodic tasks on a self- contained digital musical instrument with audio-frequency tactile feedback that was generated in response...
Conference Paper
Stylized temporal behaviour is difficult to incorporate into computational models of environmental sound, requiring either a specialised algorithm or a potentially large amount of scripted automation. For decades Foley artists have relied on embodied performance to rapidly generate expressive sound effects for the moving image. This research projec...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents two low-cost, real-time methods for performance tracking on the violin. Low-latency pitch detection is achieved by using finger position measurements from a resistive fingerboard to inform audio analysis; the combination outperforming audio-only methods. Bow position and pressure are tracked using four optical reflectance sensor...
Article
The keyboard is one of the most popular and enduring musical interfaces ever created. Today, the keyboard is most closely associated with the acoustic piano and the electronic keyboards inspired by it, which share the essential feature of being discrete: Notes are defined temporally by their onset and release only, with little control over each not...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a method of integrating two contrasting sensor systems for studying human interaction with a mechanical system, using piano performance as the case study. Piano technique requires both precise small-scale motion of fingers on the key surfaces and planned large-scale movement of the hands and arms. Where studies of performance of...