Designing New Experiences of Music Making

Morreale, Fabio (2015) Designing New Experiences of Music Making. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


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.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Information and Communication Technology
PhD Cycle:26
Subjects:Area 01 - Scienze matematiche e informatiche > INF/01 INFORMATICA
Repository Staff approval on:29 Jan 2015 09:39

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