- PhD Thesis

 Below is an overview of some of the theses researched at SARC

2018  
Juan Manuel Loaiza Restrepo
Aonghus McEvoy
   
2017  
Stefanos Kalonaris
Matilde Meireles Extended phonography: expanding field recording through a multi-sensorial practice
Robin Renwick Topologies for Network Music
   
2016  
Diogo Alvim Music Through Architecture - Contributions to an Expanded Practice in Composition
Robert D Bentall Genre Hybridisation in Electroacoustic Composition
John D'Arcy
Declan Keeney
Andrew Cavan Fyans
Spectator Understanding of Performative Interaction: The influence of mental models and communities of practice on the perception and judgement of skill and error in electronic music performance ecologies
Miguel Cerdeira Marreiros Negrão Parameter Field Spatialization: The development of a technique and software library for immersive spatial audio
Eduardo Patricio Spatial referentiality and openness: A portfolio of environmental sound compositions
Niall Rea
Tullis Rennie Composition and Identity: A portfolio of context-based sound works following interdisciplinary ethnographic methods 
Emily Diane Robertson
Koichi Samuels Enabling Creativity: a study of inclusive music technology and practices at The Drake Music Project NorthernIreland
Nathan David Surgenor
   
2015  
Isobel Anderson
Michael Dzjaparidze A Portfolio of Original Compositions using a Physically Inspired Sound Synthesis Approach
Fionnuala Fagan-Thiébot The Sound of Memory: An artistic exploration of personal and cultural narratives in post-conflict communities
Peter Stitt Microsound: A Portfolio of Original Compositions
   
2014  
Niall Fredrick Coghlan Physiological Correlates of Emotion as Interaction Channels with Artistic Applications: Artwork and Experiments
Gerard Gormley Microsound: A Portfolio of Original Compositions
Mark Rossi Abstracted Materials: A Composition Portfolio
Lilian Lima Simones The roles of gesture in piano teaching and learning 
Justin Yang
   
2013  
Rui Chaves Performing sound in place: field recording, walking and mobile transmission
Felipe Hickmann Territories of Secrecy: Presence and Play in Networked Music Performance
Javier Jaimovich Emotion Recognition from Physiological Indicators for Musical Applications
Adnan Marquez-Borbon Working Through: Characterising and Evaluating Skill with Digital with Digital Musical Interactions
Masahiro Niitsuma
Sarah Orr
Nicholas Ward  Effortful Interaction: A new paradigm for the design of digital musical instruments
   
2012  
Dionysios Athinaios
Sarah Jane Bass
Fernando Augusto Marinho de Franca Gualda Dantes
Christopher Haworth
Donal T O’Brien
Robin Michael Price
Giovanni de Sanctis In-System Parametric Calibration for Two-Microphone Wave Separation in Acoustic Waveguides
Andrea Santini
   
2011  
Andrew Dolphin A portfolio of original compositions
Grant Davidson Ford
Matt Green In and Out of Context: Field Recording, Sound Installation and the Mobile Sound Walk
Eoin Mullan Physical Modelling Sound Synthesis by Digital Waveguide Extraction with Application to Computer Games and Virtual Environments
Imogene Newland The Piano and The Female Body: the Erotic, the Seductive and the Transgressive
Damian Ryan
   
2010  
Peter Bennett The representation and control of time in tangible user interfaces (designing musical instruments for the manipulation of temporal media)
Vasileios Chatziioannou Forward and inverse modelling of single-reed woodwind instruments with application to digital sound synthesis
Brian Cullen A Portfolio of Audiovisual Compositions for the ‘new media everyday’
Florian Hollerweger The Revolution is Hear! Sound Art, the Everyday and Aural Awareness
Miguel Ortiz Towards an Idiomatic Compositional Language for Biosignal Interfaces
   
2009  
Alain Renaud The Network as a Performance Space: Strategies and Applications
Henry Vega A portfolio of original compositions
   
2008  
Tom Davis The Ear of the Beholder: Ecology, Embodiment and Complexity in Sound Installation
Konrad Kowalczyk  Boundary and medium modelling using compact finite difference schemes in simulations of room acoustics for audio and architectural design applications
Ravi Kuber Developing an assistive haptic framework for improving non-visual access to the web
Chui Chui Tan An adaptive architecture to support web graphics exploration for visually impaired people
   
2007  
David Fee Dereverberation of acoustic signals via adaptive filtering
Jason Geistweidt A portfolio of original compositions
Martin Kuster Inverse Methods in Room Acoustics with Under-Determined Data and Applications to Virtual Acoustics
   
2005  
Rachel Hosltead Portfolio of original compositions

 

 

2018

Juan Manuel Loaiza Restrepo
 
Humaning Through Music: An Effective Approach to the Continuity of Mind and Life with Implications for Musicking
 
2018
 
Supervisors: Franziska Schroeder, Simon Waters
 
This thesis offers a particular view of musicking with the conviction that new ways of approaching musical understanding need to include the connections and patterns of organisation that extend throughout human living. The enactive approach to mind in life is fundamentally concerned with an understanding of interdependence whereby the processes of life are seen to be continuous with the processes of the mind. I bring this approach to the study of music not only to shed light on an understanding of its interdependencies but also to give shape to an attitude that guides a specific musical and artistic practice. The clarification of what constitutes a musicking ecological system is a fundamental aspect of the present work. Following a naturalistic yet non-reductive approach, I propose that questions concerning musicking, whether it is seen to occur in the individual perceptual sphere or the collective practice, need to address a coherent and holistic system of actions, multi-individual relationships, and co-emerging experiences. This thesis proposes a model of nested temporalities in order to disentangle the complex whole of musicking without recourse to part-reduction or putative building blocks. Moreover, I propose that an ecological analysis of musicking needs to address the understanding of our intersubjective practices of care at the heart of a skilful social life.
Aonghus McEvoy
 
Sound, Body, Space & Place, Listening in Belfast City
 
2018
 
Supervisors: Pedro Rebelo, Suzel Reily
 
This thesis presents an ethnographic study of everyday sound and listening conducted in Belfast city. My field-work consisted of a long-term engagement with listening exercises and documenting Sound moving outwards to interviews and collaborative projects in an attempt to uncover the sounds and processes of everyday life within the city. Participants emerged from engagements in workshops and participatory art projects or were encountered through observation, listening and sound recording excursions. This thesis moves from concerns regarding the integration of theories and techniques drawn from sound studies, creative practices, anthropology and ethnomusicology to an analysis of a broader body of research pertaining to Belfast city, and centres upon my ethnographic engagement with three communities.
 
My study is focused on processes of listening, field recording and creatively engaging with sound and auditory experience. These processes of listening and exploring sound were employed in order to produce accounts of the lived experience of Belfast city. Concurrently, I sought to determine what the specific contextualisation of these explorations could elucidate about sound and listening.  The relationship between sound and the construction and experience of space and place was of particular interest in these enquiries. More specifically, data from the field brought me towards analysing issues of control and the imposition of boundaries upon space, the construction of the places of memory, the construction of collectively meaningful places and contracts of behaviour operating in space which were determined by sounding and listening. The manner in which participants discussed and documented sound led to an analysis of the act of field recording and the translation of auditory experience into linguistic representations. A number of sound recordings are submitted and referenced within the text in order to elucidate certain projects and discussions or to present acoustic elements of the field in a non-textual manner. The integration of perspectives and methodologies drawn from ethnomusicology, creative practices and sound studies proposes hybrid approaches and methods of analyses beneficial to each discipline.

2017

Stefanos Kalonaris
 
Music Games on Networks – Model-based approaches for free improvisers
 
2017
 
Supervisors: Franziska Schroeder, Simon Waters
 
This thesis presents a body of theoretical and practical work concerned with strategies employed by and for large groups of free improvisers. Experimental investigation and ethnographic work with several communities of practitioners, both in Europe and in Brazil, was carried out in order to test and improve the author’s own model-based approaches to systemic improvisation. The author’s work weaves threads between economics, mathematics and music, exploiting recent technological affordances and multidisciplinary approaches in order to shed light on the processes at work in large ensembles of improvisers. Moreover, this research aims at challenging long-established practices and habits by proposing models of systemic improvisation which am positioned in the context of game pieces and networked music performances, while relying heavily on game-theoretical precepts. The author addresses issues commonly reported in similar settings, such as interactive potential, herding and polarisation, memory and attention dependence, coordination and expectation, amongst others. Throughout this research a game-theoretical approach is preferred, whether to account for the complex nature of collective free improvisation or for network formation, interaction and decision-making amongst musicians. The result is a framework for decentralised, adaptive and egalitarian music coordination, which does not resort to commonly used strategies such as direction, graphic scores and other more or less invasive approaches.
Matilde Meireles
 
Extended phonography: expanding field recording through a multi-sensorial practice

2017
 
Supervisors: Pedro Rebelo, Paul Stapleton
 
My research, both artistic and discursive, attempts to expand the practice of field recording by addressing the emerging need for a vocabulary that mirrors new aesthetics arising in sound art.

This research is based on my practice as a field recordist, a graphic designer and a site-specific visual artist. It is through an interchange between these three languages that I propose extended phonography, a form of expanding field recording through a plural and multi-sensorial practice that primarily intersects field recording, photography and design.

Through extended phonography I will highlight the recurring paradox of field recording—the fact that the sound recordings are but a fraction of the recording experience. This paradox is a fundamental consideration when communicating field recordings to an audience. As such, a key proposal of extended phonography is to strengthen the links between the act of recording, the audience and the recorded site/context, and thus connect the recorded moment and place with the moment and space of presentation. Extended phonography introduces a way of transcending the fragmentation of sensorial experience found in field recording. By providing a non-hierarchical dialogue between practices, extended phonography contributes to a more plural experience of place through sound.

The thesis also foregrounds my interest in fostering collaboration and participation as catalysts for a shared understanding of place, by drawing attention to the different roles that these had in the creative development of each project. 

The portfolio of works was undertaken as a vehicle for research, while its documentation and written reports aim at increasing the relevance of extended phonography, its main contributions are to the specific practice of field recording, and to the wider practice of sound art.

Robin Renwick

Topologies for Network Music

2017

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo 

This thesis presents a body of theoretical research, combined with a portfolio of art works, residing within the field of network music. Network music is a musical practice in which conceptual, technological, ideological, and/or philosophical concepts of the network are included in the design, composition, production, and/or performance process.  This thesis contains critical analysis of three historical examples of network music, as well as critical reflection of three artistic responses. The analysis investigates how contemporary technologies allow increasingly complex perceptual and technological understandings of network concepts, ideologies, strategies, and topologies to be explored within network music. The thesis also contains description, critical reflection and analysis of one original artwork, which investigates a theme that emerged during the research process. The original work investigates how a performance topology, adapted from the field machine learning, alters the perception and interpretation of the network, as well as the impact it has on the involved musical agents and the performance process.

The works included with this thesis constitute the portfolio and they are the creation of the author.

2016

Diogo Alvim

Music Through Architecture - Contributions to an Expanded Practice in Composition

2016

Supervisors: Pedro Rebelo, Paul Wilson
 
This research is an inquiry into how architecture can inform, or contribute to the practice of composition. As an architect and composer, I try to 9ind strategies for musical composition in architectural practice and thought, by reframing and confronting concepts and methodologies from both disciplines. My research aims at an expanded practice (and analysis) of musical creation, one that transverses different conceptions of space—from the score based pitch space to the social and political spaces of music’s production, performance and reception.

This practice based PhD research consists of a portfolio of nine works that were developed in a dialectical relation to these ideas. The works are presented in a framework composed of 9ive conceptual tools used to articulate music and architecture. These are Material, Site, Drawing, Programme and Use.

With the notion of Material, I explore how the acoustic behaviour of a performance space, or of a 'performative device' affects the musical work. Architectural materials become musical ones as they are implicated in the listening experience. The discussion about Site brings to music the notions of place, the local, and everyday life, embracing soundscapes so many times excluded from musical discourse. Musical sites are also architectural sites, always related to their present environment, and their everyday contingencies. Drawing is a tool for developing ideas, for thinking (the sketch), but also the main mediator between architect and builder, or composer and performer (notation). When considered in a broad frame of possibilities, from symbolic to graphic systems, it helps to rede9ine the roles and ultimately to rede9ine the work itself. Programme exposes the constraints and conditions of the creation process, while also revealing the socio-political relations between musicians and audiences, institutions and composers, composers and performers. Programming as framing can be a platform to expand what the work concerns. Through a consideration of Use, the work becomes dispersed in a plurality of agents that converge in a useful event.

Thus composition, as architecture, moves from being about conditioning design to designing conditions where musical events may happen.
Robert D. Bentall
 
Genre Hybridisation in Electroacoustic Composition
 
2016
 
Supervisor: Paul Wilson
 
In this thesis, the author attempts to examine how genre hybridisation can be employed within the medium of electroacoustic music composition. The first chapter provides a broad context for genre hybridity, with definitions of genre by John Frow taken as the starting point. This opening chapter provides a detailed contextual profile for music that demonstrates genre hybridity; artists who have engaged with this notion through their own compositional output, such as Gabriel Prokofiev, Ricardo Climent, Dale Perkins and Matmos, are discussed within the opening chapter, with each artist forming the heading of a sub-chapter. The work of these composers creates hybrid discourse through strategies such as recontextualisation, mash-up, technical hybridisation and the use of recorded materials within electronic music genres that do not make significant use of found sound.
In chapter II, these ideas are discussed with regard to the body of music that accompanies this thesis, which together form the author’s PhD submission. Overarching themes include harmony, rhythm, spectral dislocation, durational expansion and melodic content. The works submitted for the portfolio are discussed more generally within the umbrella of each of these issues, which in turn form the heading of a sub-chapter. Works by other composers are referenced within chapter II, with the predominant focus being on the author’s compositions produced for the doctoral submission. 

John D’Arcy

Portfolio of Compositions

2016

Supervisors: Michael Alcorn, Sinead Morrissey

This thesis provides a commentary on a portfolio of original compositions produced through a series of practice-as-research projects. These compositions explore the mediation of text in aural and situated experiences. The mediations of text (adaptations, translations and montages) are approached from the perspective of an artist working in the broad field of sound art producing performances, installations, locative-media and radiophonic work. This practice embraces interrelated disciplines primarily concerned with the production and reception of work in aural and situated modes of delivery, often composed for specific contexts in Northern Ireland. This commentary explains the motivation behind the research, makes explicit creative decision-making processes and contextualises the work within historical and contemporary artistic research and practice.

Andrew Cavan Fyans
 
Spectator Understanding of Performative Interaction: The influence of mental models and communities of practice on the perception and judgement of skill and error in electronic music performance ecologies
 
2016
 
Supervisors: Paul Stapleton, Michael Gurevich
 
Within the domain of novel performative electronic interactions there is an aspiration to develop musical interactions that allow or exhibit high levels of performative skill, virtuosity and expressive qualities. Research and development in the domain has primarily focused on these features as functions of the performer-system relationship, with little regard for the fact that the experience of them is an ecologically situated subjective assessment made by a spectator. Furthermore it has often been assumed that a spectator is inherently qualified to understand novel perforrnative interactions in a similar manner to acoustic instruments, regardless of the radical divergence of many novel electronic interactions. In this thesis I examine and unpack underlying factors influencing the spectator experience of novel performative electronic interactions. This was achieved through
three exploratory studies of spectatorship in which primarily qualitative, phenomenological data was collected relating to participants’ cognition, judgment and experience of contrasting musical performances. This yielded diverse and rich datasets allowing for the examination of central hypotheses and research questions but also allowing for the exploration of unexpected emergent phenomena, which ultimately guided the direction of this work. Analysis highlighted the rich, holistic nature of the spectatorship and demonstrated unique features in the spectator experience of novel performative interactions. This showed that the cognition and judgement of some electronic interactions may be analogous to acoustic instruments but others offer vastly divergent spectator experiences, influenced by a range of novel factors including the cognition of a wide range of perceptual-motor, cognitive and preparatory skills. Phenomena surrounding mental models, embodiment and communities of practice were observed to be central in the experience of skill in novel performative interaction and indicative of distinct challenges in the development of novel performative interactions.
Declan Keeney
 
The Issue of Emotion in Stories of Conflict: Documentary Filmmaking in a Post Conflict Northern Ireland
 
2016
 
Supervisors: Cahal McLaughlin, David Grant
 
Utilising a practice-based methodology, this study is concerned with the construction processes of documentary films that seek to record traumatic stories from victims and survivors of conflict. The implications for participants and the integrity of the work are explored by employing various filmic strategies across three original documentary film productions, created for this study. In particular, this study is concerned with the manifestation of emotion in documentary. The motivation for this research comes from the author’s substantive professional experience in the production of broadcast documentary and television news outputs in the period immediately after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Meeting victims, survivors and former combatants, often years after significant traumatic events in their lives, it was striking how recounting their ‘lived experience’ on camera, was still a highly emotional experience for many. Bound up in the recording process of these stories, are significant ethical and editorial challenges for the filmmaker.
 
The overarching aim of this study was to contribute to an informed understanding of how trauma functions in the making of documentary film work about conflict. This work is not immediately concerned with the processes of evidence based ‘truth recovery’. The modes of truth explored here are memory’ based and distinct from the juridical procedures of a court of law. Rather the study concentrates on the praxis of the filmmaker in documentary, where the participants have experienced significant trauma in their lifetime. This research also examines the representation of trauma; how the filmmaker presents this emotion, and how creative decisions influence collective or societal memory formation .All of which has received little scholarly attention in a medium largely concerned with ‘representing the real’. Emotion in this study should be read as a complex set of interconnecting ‘feeling states’ collectively described as trauma. The contention is that where trauma manifests, so too can be found a significant number of difficult ethical, moral and editorial challenges for the filmmaker. This study seeks therefore, to interrogate the processes of ‘managing’ emotion in the production of new film work where testimony is a core component. The practice based methodology employed, led to the creation of three self-authored documentary films featuring stories from victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict known as the Troubles, and the Siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These films. We Carried Your Secrets (Keeney. 2010). We Are Not Afraid (Keeney. 2012) and Release (Keeney. 2013), can be viewed as a development of the author’s own approach to documenting traumatic events of conflict. Each film provided the context for a case study that emerged chronologically over the period of the study, whereby each film in turn, explored core research questions such as the implications for participants when recalling traumatic memories of conflict on camera; how the production process and creative decisions of the filmmaker impact on the integrity of these stories and finally, the third film sought to understand the value or contribution these films make to the record of the conflict, in the context of work not motivated by ‘truth recovery’.
 
This study will argue that emotion is a modifier of memory and that documenting ‘emotional’ testimony has significant implications for the participant and the audience’s reception of the story. This study also found that the use of artifice or fictive devices by the filmmaker alters how these films’ function in relation to wider memory formation in a post-conflict society, but that these films do have an intrinsic value to the record of conflict. This study attempts to outline a number of interventions in the field of documentary’ production. It asks for greater support for victims and survivors during and after their contribution to the production process. It also suggests that a more profound understanding of the cognitive processing at work in these engagements can be beneficial for the participant, the integrity of the stories and to the creative process. The need to find a research paradigm that offered a means to articulate these findings, led to an engagement with cognitive film theory and recent scholarship around its application to documentary. This study suggests the use of cognitive theory as a synthesizing tool for conceptualizing an approach to making documentary films. The focus of cognitive studies remains on spectatorship. This study is not proposing a new theory but rather it attempts to reverse engineer the process. On a practical level this can enable the filmmaker to attach creative solutions to problems of representing or evoking emotion and on the theoretical level, this approach offers insight on how the film work might be received having made those decisions.

Miguel Cerdeira Marreiros Negrão

Parameter Field Spatialization: The development of a technique and software library for immersive spatial audio

2016


Supervisor: Michael Alcorn

This thesis describes parameter field spatialization, a novel technique for creating and controlling spatial sound patterns formed along a surface, when working with sound syn- thesis and signal processing in a computer-music environment. Its main purpose is the creation of spatially-dynamic immersive sources in electroacoustic composition. This technique generates multiple decorrelated signals from a given sound process definition, which when spatialized at different locations can create a single enveloping auditory event with large width and heigth. By modulating parameters of the sound process dif- ferently for each signal it is possible to create a spatial surface pattern. The modulation signals are generated based on a mathematical model which assumes a surface encom- passing all the loudspeakers and describes an abstract pattern in this surface through a mathematical function of time and surface coordinates, called parameter field. This research investigates whether parameter field spatialization can successfully create and precisely control spatial surface patterns, and how these patterns can be made into a compositional parameter in computer music.

The technique was implemented in ImmLib, a software library for the SuperCollider audio-synthesis environment. Several specific examples of the combination of para- meter fields with sound processes were investigated from a perceptual point of view, in listening sessions using two loudspeaker systems, one spherical and the other a vertical rectangular grid. A group of composers was invited to use the software for their own work, producing three pieces presented in public, which were analysed regarding the use of the technique. From this practical work findings relating to the most effective strategies regarding the use of parameter fields were outlined.

Eduardo Patricio

Spatial referentiality and openness: A portfolio of environmental sound compositions.

2016

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo, Paul Stapleton

Through a creative portfolio and an analytical and critical commentary, this research investigates the use of spatial references in the composition of semi-open environmental sound works. The portfolio explores a number of strategies to make use of spatial references as formal compositional components to enable more intuitive performance/reading experiences. The pieces present a number of electronically mediated scenarios in varied formats; concert, installation and mobile application. Counting on the intuitive way one tries to constantly identify surrounding spaces, each piece uses physical (performance/presentation spaces) and representational devices (illustrations, maps, video projections, spatialised sound etc.) to articulate and delimitate semi-open artistic experiences. Such ambiguous scenarios are enabled by both the unpredictability of elements of each work and the dependence on the subjective interpretations of the agents involved in the process. The creative processes presented here in a descriptive, analytical and critical manner attempt to make an artistic contribution and provide documental material for future reflection about related practices. 

Niall Rea
 
Queer Identity in Performance in Northern Ireland
 
2016
 
Supervisors: Franziska Schroeder, Mark Phelan
 
This thesis investigates queer identity in performance in Northern Ireland, focusing on its socioculturally disruptive agency. Queer theory provides a poststructuralist paradigm that unsettles any binary structures in the analysis of gender and sexuality in social, historical and cultural studies. Its disruptive analysis can also be harnessed to subvert the outwardly dysfunctional sectarian binary in Northern Irish society by critiquing the construction of identities. I explore this localised interpretation of queer and argue for a re-evaluation through a ‘queer reading’ (or ‘queering’) of recent Northern Irish cultural/theatrical history’, contending that this geographically particular reading of queerness can place it as a desegregated identity exemplar. The practice portion of the thesis then stages this desegregating queer agency and explores its potentials for cultural comment and critical reordering.
 
I approach the research as a scholar and a theatre practitioner, with the result that the thesis is undertaken and organised as a 60% written dissertation along with 40% creative practice. Firstly the thesis explores the somewhat obfuscated history of gay characters in Northern Irish drama (especially in non-canonical, alternative works) and their attendant queerness or disordering (or reordering) potentials in relation to the ethnosectarian conflict and also contemporary post-conflict Northern Ireland. I will pay particular attention to cross-dressed characters in performance as both popular and subversively queer parodies that often collapse sectarian binaries. I then theorise how this queer agency can work dramaturgically through my practice and how its transformative potentiality can be harnessed through such cultural interventions. I will conclude that the localised Northern Irish lens establishes a model of situating and understanding queer that, through engaging with the discourse around conflict resolution, provides a useful alternative identity marker beyond any binaries.

Tullis Rennie

Composition and Identity - A portfolio of context-based sound works following interdisciplinary ethnographic methods 

2016 

Supervisor: Simon Mawhinney 

This research explores matters of social, cultural and personal identity through composition. The portfolio for this PhD is made up of seven works: Carioca Sound Stories, Selarón: A Great Madness, Manifest, The Metropolis Sounds, Muscle Memory, Everybody (Wants To Be The DJ), and Walls On Walls. They are presented variously as fixed media compositions, a multi-channel sound installation, and a participative community project.

My practice-based research has developed a musical language that seeks a threshold between ethnographic-cultural documentation and composed sound arts practice. This commentary engages with how such an approach might affect attitudes towards a number of broader issues concerning sound composition. Key themes include: the act of listening; the practice of field recording; notions of soundscape composition; ethnography in sound; music and identity; sampling; participative approaches to sound art. 

Many of the portfolio works aim to serve their subject matter reciprocally; interacting with the particular sites, sources, interviewees and participants discussed through the works. As such, these compositions aim to provide cultural insights for myself, for others directly involved, and for the wider community of interest relevant to each piece.

This research presents how an ethnographic approach to listening, sound, music, and ‘the field’ has affected my compositional outlook and the representation of multiple identities within these works.

Emily Diane Robertson

‘Tones out of nowhere’: Situating the Design and Development of Graphic Notation for Network Performance

2016

Supervisors Pedro Rebelo, Franziska Schroeder

This thesis presents results from an ethnographic interview-based study of the practices and processes of composers who create graphic notation for networks performance.  Through these interviews, as well as literature reviews and case studies, this thesis examines the effects of factors in the network of music environment on the design and development of graphic notation and the ways in which composers frame, play with, and respond to the network in music performance.  This thesis also includes reflections on a portfolio of network music and graphic notation experiments conducted as part of personal artistic practice and a key component of this research process.

Koichi Samuels

Enabling Creativity: a study of inclusive music technology and practices at The Drake Music Project Northern Ireland

2016

Supervisors: Franziska Schroeder, Fiona Magowan

The Drake Music Project Northern Ireland (DMNI) is a charity with the aim of enabling disabled people to compose and perform their own music independently through the use of music technology. Thus, DMNI is a charity that works at the intersection of music, disability and technology. This research contributes to raising further awareness on the issue of inclusion and disability, and at the same time presents an example of a charity working on practice-based and technical solutions to transcending both material and social disabling barriers to music making. Interviews, observations and professional perspectives on DMNI techniques and inclusive music practices were gathered through a sixteen-month ethnographic study of the charity between 2013 - 2015.

In this thesis I explore the ways in which people produce exclusions and barriers to inclusion whilst using computer-based music technology. In addition, I argue that a music technology device’s potential to be used in accessible ways, or to be inaccessible to certain users is not determined by its design. Through practices of adaptation, or by creating assemblies of devices, even interfaces that are not matched to the specific requirements of a certain user can provide access to music making. I argue that a relational understanding of “independence” serves to reveal a layer of activity beneath simply the physical ability to perform musical actions unaided, and recognises that independence also exists in the choices and opinions of the individual. I argue that the practices of resistance to various barriers and constraints to music making at DMNI are highly improvisatory and creative. Moreover, looking at the practices of music making, and the design and adaptation of devices I discuss throughout this thesis, I argue that DMNI provides a space and platform for disabled musicians to exercise acts of resistance against individual, social and material barriers.

Nathan David Surgenor
 
A Portfolio of Original Compositions
 
2016
 
Supervisors: Piers Hellawell, Simon Mawhinney
 
Through the music contained within this portfolio, I the composer, have sought to create a synthesis between two seemingly incongruous manifestations of my compositional output by focusing on features common to both and exploring how their differences can be interpreted by other means, thereby also providing examples in order to aid other composers who may face the same difficulties within their own work.
 
In order to achieve this, I first imposed compositional restrictions upon the earlier works of the portfolio: Things Fall Apart was composed first, with the focus being on a large scale timbral work void of anything akin to melody or harmony; secondly, Hidak was composed as a piano suite with materials drawn from the more traditional melodic-harmonic practices. Building upon this, the songbook Of Passing Time, string quartet The A to Z of String Theory and orchestral work The Most Unpretending of Places were all composed with a conscious decision to blend the timbral and pitchbased materials of my music more explicitly, these investigations culminating in the fusion of styles within the final works: As One Day Closes and On Castlerock Strand.
 
Specifically, I produced this amalgamation of language by applying a harmonic dimension to polyrhythmic writing found within my timbral works, employing dense or close pitch sets to function as colouristic attributes rather than just harmonic ones and by treating unpitched materials as an accompaniment for melodic lines. My objective was to balance all these elements thereby producing a truly integrated synthesis of language.

2015

Isobel Anderson
 
My words trace a path: Encounters with place through voice, performance and field recording
 
2015
 
Supervisors: Paul Stapleton, Gascia Ouzounian
 
Through a creative portfolio of autotopographic sound works and a written thesis, this research explores the role of sound within individual and collective constructions of place. The process of walking in specific locations has generated materials such as text, field recordings, photographs, and objects, which together form a body of site-specific work that includes soundwalks, fixed audio pieces, installations and live performances. The voices present in these works are often disembodied, and play with language and time to test the possibilities of re-contextualising, or mis-‘placing’, the body and the mind within primarily aural surroundings.  This practice-as-research PhD examines the many layers of association, meaning, and significance that interconnect across our surrounding environments, not only in places of physical and conceptual stability but also in sites of liminality. This research offers new insights into the role of sound art in geographic identity, while placing language and voice at the centre of this work. I argue that artworks and discourses that consider interactions between sound and site can contribute to an understanding of these subjective relationships, and their influence on self-identity.

Michael Dzjaparidze

A Portfolio of Original Compositions using a Physically Inspired Sound Synthesis Approach

2015

Supervisors: Paul Wilson, Maarten van Walstijn

This thesis accompanies a portfolio of compositions and, in addition, discusses a number of compositional approaches which make use of physical modelling and physically inspired sound synthesis methods for the creation of computer generated music. To this end, a software library has been developed for the purpose of the real-time simulation of systems of inter-connected 1D and 2D objects to be assembled by the user. Although the developed software has proven to be indispensable for producing the creative results, the emphasis of assessing the research should be on the contribution of the portfolio to the field of musical invention, as the goal was not to add any novel technical knowledge to the  field of physical modelling. Instead, my aim was to explore in depth the creative possibilities of technical research carried out by others and to show that it can be utilised in a form which aids my own creative practice. From a creative perspective, it builds upon concepts and ideas formulated earlier by composers Jean-Claude Risset and Denis Smalley, centered around the interpretation of timbre and sound as constructs which actively inform compositional decision-making and structuring processes. This involves the creation of harmony out of timbre and playing with the source-cause perception of the listener through the transformation of timbre over time. Lastly, the thesis offers a discussion of gesture and texture as they commonly appear in electroacoustic music and tries to justify my own personal preference for focusing on the development of texture over time as a means to create musical form and function.

Fionnuala Fagan-Thiébot

The Sound of Memory: An artistic exploration of personal and cultural narratives in post-conflict communities.

2015

Supervisors: Paul Stapleton, Martin Dowling

Through a creative portfolio and reflective writing, this thesis explores how divergent sound-art practices can represent oral history narratives found in post-conflict societies such as Northern Ireland and Bosnia. Recently collected interview materials have been transcribed, edited and transformed through the application of a newly devised artistic methodology, which draws on verbatim theatre. This re-telling of personal narratives takes place through intertwining the practices of verbatim song-writing, sound design, live performance and installation art. The primary aim of this research is to increase access to the often forgotten knowledge found in individual experiences, thus augmenting more generalised historical narratives of marginalised communities.      

Peter Stitt

Ambisonics and Higher-Order Ambisonics for Off-Centre Listeners: Evaluation of Perceived and Predicted Image Direction

2015

Supervisors: Maarten van Walstijn, Stephanie Bertet

Higher Order Ambisonics is a spatial audio technique that aims to recreate a sound image over as large a listening area as possible. Only limited investigation has taken place into localisation with Ambisonics and Higher Order Ambisonics at off-centre listening positions. This thesis presents the results of three psychoacoustic localisation experiments investigating off-centre localisation of first and third order Ambisonics under different conditions: in acoustically damped studio conditions, investigating transient versus ongoing, non-transient stimuli for the third order system, and for a large array system with increased arrival time delay between loudspeakers. A detailed analysis of the results of each experiment is carried out to determine the robustness of the tested ambisonic systems and whether the variation is principally due to differences between listeners or through the variation of individual listeners. Comparisons are made between the results of the three experiments to determine the influence of changing the stimulus or increasing the arrival time delay between loudspeakers, where the relative gains of the loudspeakers was found to be perceptually more important than increased time differences between them. The significance and usefulness of these results can be increased by comparison with models for prediction of human localisation, where a robust model would afford fast evaluation of ambisonic systems and allow system optimisation for off-centre positions. Therefore, evaluation is performed for two binaural models on their ability to predict the results of the psychoacoustic experiments. This includes a model that has previously been used for prediction of off-centre listening positions for higher order systems and WFS. A modified version of the Lindemann model, which includes a precedence effect inhibition, is also evaluated, having previously been applied to two channel lead-lag experiments. Finally, the energy vector model, which is prevalent in the Ambisonics community, is extended to include elements of the precedence effect. The binaural models, the standard energy vector, previously untested for off-centre positions, and the precedence-extended model are evaluated by comparison to the perceptual results. The robustness of each of the binaural and vector models is discussed in the context of their use as predictors of localisation at off-centre listening positions. The predictions of the precedence-extended energy vector are found to exhibit the lowest deviation from the perceptual results.

2014

Niall Fredrick Coghlan

Physiological Correlates of Emotion as Interaction Channels with Artistic Applications: Artwork and Experiments

2014

Supervisors: Paul Stapleton, Ben Knapp

Links between music and emotional state have been posited for many years, dating back to Aristotle, and periodically taken up by musicians, musicologists, philosophers and most recently neuroscientists. Mounting evidence suggests that music is used by many as a form of mood regulation and there is a long history of music as therapy, usually realised as performance or group work, with more recent studies showing links between music listening and positive healthcare outcomes.

In addition to interest in the relationship between music and emotion, there has been a recent upsurge in research into emotion as a channel for technological and creative interaction with music, multimedia artworks, computers and new digital instruments. It is exploring this aspect of emotion-based interaction that provides the motivation for this thesis, a desire to utilise emotion (and the physiological characteristics associated with affect) as an interaction channel. In order to achieve this, further exploration of the associations between emotion, physiology and music is necessary.

To date studies in the field of music and emotion have faced a number of challenges, not least in the definition of and delineation between emotions, moods, feelings and other affective states. Other challenges include limited sample sizes in experimental work, a past focus on the western classical tradition and the difficulties involved in ecological assessment of emotion.

As context for my own work, this thesis initially presents an overview of the dominant theories relating to emotions, and in particular their interaction with music and the mechanisms and audio features by which music may induce emotion. An overview and critique of artworks utilising signifiers of affective state is also presented before detailing my own artistic contributions as co-creator of artworks utilising physiological correlates of emotion. An overview of a large-scale public experiment (Emotion in Motion) designed to explore and deepen knowledge of some these issues is presented, along with an analysis of the data collected. This analysis found relationships between specific musical features such as tempo, mode and dynamic range and participant experiences of factors relating to emotions such as valence, arousal and engagement.

The concluding chapter summarises the findings and examines potential directions for future research as well as applications of emotionally and physiologically aware technologies, including affective computing, healthcare and interactive artworks.

Gerard Gormley

Microsound: A Portfolio of Original Compositions

2014

Supervisors: Paul Wilson, Pedro Rebelo

This portfolio of six electroacoustic compositions and accompanying thesis present an investigation of microsound through a variety of lenses.

Microsound is defined as both sound particles consisting of extremely short transients, and also sounds containing low amplitude levels. In this research I investigate how considerations of microsound can influence and shape compositional decisions, and show how this influence can be traced within my own compositional approach. The six compositions that comprise the portfolio explore different aspects of dynamic and temporal microsound, as well as microsound in relation to concepts of noise. The compositions are: Surface (2010), a two-channel piece for tape that examines microsound in relation to soundscape and listening and recording spaces; Testure (2011), composed for a combination of two and five channels, investigates microsound via an exploration of masked

audio contained in instrumental sound sources; Bunker (2012) and Odessa (2012), interconnected compositions composed, respectively, for eight and sixteen channels, examine short transient audio fragments in the context of noise and rhythm; Mochorel (2013), a two-channel piece, which proposes the idea of ‘noisescape’ as a merging of soundscape composition and noise; and finally ParkerSuite (2013), a work for GPS-enabled mobile /phones that was created in the context of an umbrella Project, Belfast Soundwalks, in which compositions are mapped to real-world environments using mobile app technologies. This last composition explores naturally occurring microsounds within the environment, e.g. birdsong.

The six compositions in the portfolio are linked thematically as well as through the application of different microsound compositional techniques. The thesis shows how each composition developed both as a standalone work and in relation to the larger portfolio, and demonstrates a strong connecting thread between the different works. The commentary further explores in-depth the concepts and techniques explored in the portfolio, and situates these ideas within an historical context. Historical influences range from Futurist ideas of noise to John Cage’s concept of ‘small sounds’; the compositional ideas and methods of lannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman, Jakob Ullman and others; and musicological and theoretical concepts put forward by Curtis Roads, Dennis Smalley, Kim Cascone, Joanna Demers, R. Murray Schafer, and others. Through the different compositional investigations and associated discussions I conclude that microsound offers a rich avenue through which to explore contemporary ideas and methods in electroacoustic music, and show how these ideas can be effectively applied in a variety of ways.

Mark Rossi

Abstracted Materials: A Composition Portfolio

2014

Supervisors: Eric Lyon, Pedro Rebelo

This commentary will discuss the main concepts behind the electroacoustic music in the composition portfolio: Abstracted Materials.

Produced between the years of 2008 to 2013 at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, these acousmatic works will be framed within various contexts, from the practical to the theoretical. Occasionally, the analysis will centre upon the strategies and methods applied to the formal aspects of the compositions and also consider ideas associated with listening as an integral aspect of sound art practice.

During the time I attended the Sonic Arts Research centre, the research encountered many shifts: from the psychoacoustic aspects of a sound, or sound making activity as a source of inspiration, to the intuitive use of materials that formed my personal associations with a musical process. This document attempts to weave a narrative from these experiences. My goal is to explain these musical concepts and to faithfully record the process of producing this portfolio of acousmatic works.

Lilian Lima Simones

The roles of gesture in piano teaching and learning

2014

Supervisors: Franziska Schroeder, Matthew Rodger

The experience of engaging with music through listening, teaching and learning would be impossible without a bodily interface, through which movement and music can be physically produced, experienced and understood. Physical gestures form a central part of the communication established between the teacher-student dyad in the communication of symbolic and functional musical knowledge. Factors such as gesture types (forms and meanings) and their specific outcomes in the teaching and learning processes have been consistently overlooked in the instrumental music pedagogical context. This thesis prioritises such undervalued topics, focusing its enquiry upon piano teachers’ hand gestures used to communicate with students during the teaching process and incorporates theoretical frameworks from disciplines such as: music-psychology, psycholinguistics, gesture studies, gesture-led educational re-search, imitation and observational motor-learning.

Three investigations were carried out to investigate the role of teachers’ gestures in piano teaching and learning. The first two combined qualitative and quantitative approaches – the results of which were used in establishing the first known categorisation of piano teachers’ gestures. Amongst the most intriguing findings were the relationship between teachers’ didactic intent and the forms of gesture they employed, and ‘gestural scaffolding’ (when teachers adapted particular gestural communicative channels to suit specific student skill levels). In the third investigation an experimental setting was used to observe and evaluate the role of teaching gestures in one-to-one instrumental tuition. Here different gestural teaching and learning conditions yielded multiple levels of learning effectiveness, implying a need for empirical understanding and establishment of gestural performance as a concept that can be applied to enhance learning across specific pedagogical contexts. As well as building a case for future investigations in this research area, this thesis opens a debate within studies of pedagogical practice in instrumental music teaching, whilst contributing more generally to discussions of how the body impacts upon music understanding.

Justin Yang
 
2014
 
The Performance Ecosystem: A Model for Music Composition Through Real-Time, Interactive Performance Systems
 
Supervisors: Michael Alcorn, Pedro Rebelo

2013

Rui Chaves
 
Performing sound in place: field recording, walking and mobile transmission 
 
2013
 
Supervisors: Pedro Rebelo and Paul Stapleton
 
This thesis deals with the constitution of a practice that is characterized as a performative demonstration of a process — the “making of place”. This is ‘framed’ (Goffman 1959; 1974) by the presence of a sonic performer who explores the potential of gesture, text, technology and place in constructing a creative relationship with everyday life. This practice-based research consists of a written thesis and 12 original performance works in areas of work that have been designated as walkingfield recording and mobile transmission. 

What does it mean to perform sound? As an artist who began his career creating sound design and improvising with performance artists, choreographers and theatre directors, I came to understand that every aspect of the construction of an event matters: body, text, place and sound. It is this interdisciplinarity — alongside the move from conventional performance spaces to outdoors — that prompts me to propose a post-medium approach (Krauss 2000), considering everything that happens in and around sound as significant to its performance (Kim-Cohen 2009). This approach concentrates on the ethics (Morton 2007) of constructing a site-specific interaction (Kwon 2002, Turner 2004) between place, performer and sonic experience; that focuses on sonic performance as a relational site of encounter instead of reception (Bourriaud 2002); explores the intersubjective, multi-sensorial (Ingold 2000) and creative potential of the subject; and considers the “noise” of thoughts and existence not as a distraction from entering a sonic experience, but ultimately as an essential part of listening (Nancy 2007, Ihde 2007). 

Performing sound thus complicates traditional separations between music and sound art, as a result of medium specificity or context (Licht 2007), and becomes a process in which the expre

Felipe Hickmann

Territories of Secrecy: Presence and Play in Networked Music Performance

2013

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

This thesis presents practical work and theoretical research spanning topics in music composition, performance and new media. It proposes a particular creative approach to performance practices mediated by computer networks, which addresses issues of presence and liveness through the application of game-derived systems to performance settings. The thesis includes a portfolio of eight compositions; these pieces were designed and performed with the goal of implementing strategies proposed during theoretical reflection, while also suggesting new ideas for further study. 

The theoretical component of this work investigates the notion that performance is affected in its attributes of presence and liveness whenever reproduction and mediation technologies come into play. Building on the views of media theorists and research in psychology, it identifies the roles played by agency and social cues in the perception of presence. After reviewing contemporary artistic practices in which participation is enabled by open and playful performance situations, the thesis proposes the use of game systems as a strategy for negotiating musical play in networked settings. 

The notion of secrecy provides a key conceptual reference that guides both theoretical enquiry and creative exploration. This investigation argues that every act of mediation entails an opportunity for selective concealment of ideas and actions, and therefore comprehends a wide creative potential. While music performance over computer networks may entail the loss of cues that are often taken as granted in ensemble play – such as shared pulse, breath and bodily communication – it may also suggest innovative modes of engagement, based on the regulation of information rather than its unimpeded disclosure. This premise is explored throughout the portfolio, which borrows ideas from contemporary social practices of secrecy and performativity.

Javier Jaimovich 

Emotion Recognition from Physiological Indicators for Musical Applications

2013

Supervisors: Ben Knapp, Maarten van Walstijn

This thesis investigates the emotional response of audiences to music via physiological indicators, with the goal of creating interfaces that use emotional state for music control, specifically in performance scenarios via electrodermal and cardiovascular measures. In the past two decades, multiple disciplines have shown interest in studying the relationship between music, emotion, and its physiological manifestation. However, despite the increasing attention, the actual mechanisms on how music modulates human emotion and how this correlates with physiological changes are still not well understood. Therefore, this topic provides interesting challenges to determine if musical emotions can be measured from audiences in ecological environments via physiological signals. In order to address this, there are several questions that need to be resolved; including how to measure physiological indicators of emotion in concert environments, what level of shared responses and variance can be expected from public audiences, and how to assess the induction of musical emotions on listeners. In order to answer these questions, the work in this thesis starts by measuring physiological indicators of emotion in music concerts, revealing high correlations between the physiology of performers and audience members, as well as associations between physiological changes and structural and acoustical features of the music. In order to assess felt emotion on listeners and how these are manifested via changes in physiology, a series of modular public listening experiments (Emotion in Motion) were implemented in Dublin and New York, collecting physiological data and self-report measures of emotion from over 4000 participants. Analysis of this database reveals a set of specific physiological indicators that show significant relationships with musically induced emotions. This thesis also contributes robust feature extraction tools for Electrodermal Activity and Heart Rate, and a methodology for synchronization of multimodal signals for musical performance research.

Adnan Marquez-Borbon
 
Working Through: Characterising and Evaluating Skill with Digital with Digital Musical Interactions
 
2013
 
Supervisors: Paul Stapleton, Michael Gurevich
 
Within the broader field of designing for digital musical interactions, there is an aspiration for musical devices to display expressive and skilful qualities.  While the former has received much more attention, skill has been implicit in much of the new instrument design discourse despite the clamour for virtuosity.  In this thesis I examined the underlying process of skill development with a novel musical instrument by unpacking its constituting elements.  For this I conducted a long-term observational study in which purpose-built musical device was given to a group of performers to learn and develop their performance abilities.  Data collection and analysis approaches were drawn from established qualitative research methods in order to identify important components contributing to the phenomenon of skill.. Results of this study show that skill is constituted by several components that are perceptual-motor, cognitive, affective, motivational, and social in nature.  In this manner, it was found that both individual contributions of personal trajectories and histories, as well as social interrelationships create an environment for the development of skill.  Moreover, meanings and judgements of skill are negotiated within a community of practice.  It was found that within this social structure, this negotiation process leads to the development, consolidation and adaption of performance practices.  These results indicate that human contributions are of great importance to the development of skills with new musical instruments, thus challenging the view of skills as an inherent property of the musical device.
Masahiro Niitsuma
 
Towards automated discovery of knowledge from Bach’s original manuscripts
 
2013
 
Supervisors: Yo Tomita, David Bell, Weiqi Yan
 
Recent interest in the preservation of our heritage has brought about increased archival research, which has made a considerable number of historical documents available in digital format. However, the analysis of these documents still greatly depends on manually intensive work by domain experts. Early music manuscripts are one of the most complicated sources as they require extensive knowledge of domain experts. Although optical music recognition has been actively investigated, it has not been applied to music manuscripts from a historical musicological perspective.
The principal aim of this work is to reveal potentially valuable information in music manuscripts by integrating historical musicologists’ knowledge into computational analysis. Particular attention is paid to the paleographical aspects of music manuscripts. Image processing is used to extract geometric features from music manuscripts and statistical analysis is conducted. The proposed methods are validated by exploring case studies in Bach source studies, the results of which suggest that there is a strong potential for them to become a road map not only for musicological research hut also other empirical research. Moreover, the results of the proposed research may also serve as a prototype for next-generation data mining, which can not only use the data-driven information but also the experts’ background knowledge in highly professional subjects.

Sarah Orr

Numerical Simulation of Coupled String Vibrations with Application to Physics-Based Sound Synthesis

2013

Supervisors: Maarten van Walstijn, Colin Cowan

The work in this thesis presents and discusses new techniques for modelling string instrument vibrations for the purpose of physics-based sound synthesis. The work focuses on coupled systems, where phenomena such as sympathetic vibrations should naturally occur. Finite difference (FD) methods are chosen for modelling string vibrations for their flexibility both in terms of local adjustments and possible extensions to non-linearities. The resonating body is represented using a modal formulation. Modelling the body in such a way has the advantage of scalability which can improve efficiency. This is shown to be possible without affecting the overall timbre of the sound. The models were formulated using idealised shapes such as the beam and plate, but the modal formulation is general for all linear systems. A technique for interfacing the FD model of the string to the modal formulation of the body is presented. In this way the advantages of both methods are exploited, improving the balance between accurate and efficiency. Initially, this coupling is formulated using only transverse motion but is then extended to include longitudinal motion. In simulations of a harp-like instrument where the strings are coupled to the body at an angle, results obtained with numerical experiments show that including longitudinal vibrations impacts the eigenmodes of the system and prove essential for accurately modelling sympathetic vibrations. Comparisons with previous studies validate these results. By applying the proposed method to model resembling a simplified piano, online changes to parameters such as soundboard density further demonstrate the proposed technique.

Nicholas Ward
 
Effortful Interaction: A new paradigm for the design of digital musical instruments
 
2013
 
Supervisors: Sile O’Modhrain, Gascia Ouzounian
 
Human movement is central to instrument musical performance. Beyond the apparent connection between sound-producing actions and time sounds themselves, movement can communicate emotion, musical intention and structure. In designing an acoustic instrument, the requirements to support the vibration and manipulation of strings or membranes constrain the possibilities for action that facilitate performance.  In Digital Musical Instrument (DMI) design, however, no specific physical requirements for movements exist. Electronic sound production and sensing systems expand the possibilities for performance movement far beyond that typically associated with acoustic instruments. This is indicated by the DM1 design community’s focus on sound synthesis and sound-gesture mapping; little attention is given to movement qualities of the performance interaction.  This thesis seeks to redress this imbalance, by developing and testing a coherent method for installing bodily movement in DMI designs. 
 
Upon considering existing frameworks for description of human movement, both generally and in musical performance specifically. Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) was identified as a suitable method for exploring amid designing for movement. . Laban’s theory of Effort was selected to observe and analyse Theremin performances, and, from this analysis, tested in a novel DMI, the Damper. Following this, further re-iterations of LMA observation and analysis were carried out to strengthen this descriptive method.
 
From these initial studies, and existing design theory, a formal movement-based DMI design process was constructed, and implemented in the design of another novel DMI interface, the Twister. This interface was designed to the specific quality of movement, Carving, as defined by LMA.  An observational analysis showed that naïve users did respond to the device with the intended movement qualities. This thesis therefore provides a procedural framework with which to design for movement in DMIs, and initial testing indicates that it is indeed possible to design DMI interfaces that invite desired movement qualities.

2012

Dionysios Athinaios

A Portfolio of Original Compositions

2012

Sarah Jane Bass
 
Towards a classification of diffusion gestures: a comparison of stereo sound diffusion performances
 
2012
 
Supervisor: Michael Alcorn
 
The performance practice of sound diffusion is currently not widely understood. Existing research has focused upon technical issues of diffusion systems and aesthetic issues of the use of space within electroacoustic composition, whilst the aspect of performance has largely been neglected. The fundamental question that this thesis aimed to address was the extent to which performances of stereo electroacoustic pieces of music varied from performer to performer and performance to performance. To answer this question a distinctive methodology of data collection and analysis was developed that focused on the formation of a unique classification of diffusion gestures.
 
Diffusion performances given by four expert practitioners were recorded and examined in a variety of ways that centred on the traditions of oral, aural, and visual observation associated with the practice. Results of an analysis of verbal reports provided during performance using the Think-Aloud method revealed that diffusionists share a common diffusion language. A number of theoretical gesture terms and definitions were created that were then confirmed and extended through an observational analysis of visual recordings of physical diffusion gestures made during performance. A survey carried out with a separate set of independent diffusionists then validated these terms.
 
Performance variation was inspected and it was discovered that diffusionists do not perform the same piece of music in the same way. It was revealed that whilst diffusionists focused upon and enhanced the same sonic gestures and musical features during performance, they did not necessarily enhance these sonic gestures in the same way with respect to their choice of specific diffusion gestures. Similarly, a high level of variation was found when diffusionists performed the same piece on more than one occasion.
 
Through a diffusion study and survey, the first known empirical study of sound diffusion practice is presented in this thesis. The first extensive catalogue of diffusion gestures that is applicable to performance by a number of independent diffusionists was devised, and an understanding of the extent of interpretation in diffusion performance has been provided.
Fernando Augusto Marinho de Franca Gualda Dantes
 
Subtleties of Inflection and Musical Noesis: Computational and Cognitive Approaches to Aural Assessment of Music Performance
 
2012
 
Assessment of music performance, be it unconscious or intentional, is inherent to the musical experience and serves professional, pedagogical, and artistic purposes. This thesis focuses on advancing current understanding about the processes that underlie aural assessment of music performance. Issues regarding the origin, nature, ubiquity, validity, and inexorability of aural assessment are discussed. Expert musicians’ personal approaches to aural assessment of music performance are surveyed and categorised.
 
The cognitive approach comprises the Niobe Experiment, which included a listening task designed to collect listeners’ comments, marks, and selections of preferred samples, within an ecological setting. The computational approach is a set of feature vectors estimated from audio samples of recordings of Niobe’s theme. Frequencies of comments and marks were combined with feature vectors to produce the Augmented Aural Assessment paradigm, which is shown to be more consistent in identifying samples by the same performers than either the computational or the cognitive approaches.
Christopher Haworth
 
Vertical Listening: Musical Subjectivity and the Suspended Present
 
2012
 
As has been well covered in histories of art aesthetics and spectatorship across the humanities, the late modern period represented a time when ideas and anxieties about time, temporality and history passed amongst the various art forms. The notion that it might be possible to escape the determinism of form, transforming the common temporalities of music in order to bring musical experience into closer correspondence with that of the silent arts, rebounded amongst artists and composers. Works whose temporalities may be more closely related to reading than to A to B objective succession emerge, wherein chronometric time may be interrupted, replayed, as well as sped up and slowed down. Though time is never evaded, the priority is on the present, as the listener is rendered free to exert a certain influence over the course of events, becoming an active agent in the work’s unfolding.
 
Comprising a body of theoretical and practical work, this thesis presents a thorough critical examination of this ‘present of listening’. It asks what this new aesthetic means in a musico-historical sense; does it have a politics; what happens to artistic agency, musical meaning, and perception when form is suspended, or the here and now of listening in the world is prioritised over listening in a concert hall; in sum, how does musical experience change? Experiencing the present, as these works invite us to do, appears to foster a situation in which perception may genuinely be called ‘creative’. Although imagined in different ways, the moment of listening becomes a performance, a kind or improvisation. But to what extent is this creative mode of participation already structured by the priorities it purports to escape? Do we listen freely, or do these works entail a more radical overhaul of the self? A process of unlearning, perhaps: one akin to ‘anti-technique’ improvisational practices?
 
Methodologically, the aesthetics of presentness is examined in relation to two dimensions of music and sound art; one, an objective dimension relating to time, form, and musical history; and the other, a subjective one relating to musical experience in everyday life. In the first case, presentness is considered amongst new ideas of temporality and non-temporality in the late 20th Century, where space comes to be extolled and time is equated with finitude. In the second, it is placed in conversation with ideas about emotion, autobiographical memory, and power. Here ‘presentness’ appears to represent a path to emergent experiences that are not steered by the emotional contour of the music, whilst also giving permission to alternative listening states such as trancing. These themes are explored over four sections that each take in a variety of perspectives, engaging literature, film theory, critical theory, philosophy, and perceptual and cognitive science. The ideas are sounded out and critiqued through the author’s own compositional practice, which draws upon the sciences of psychoacoustics and music psychology to render audible to the listener the mechanisms of audition. Employing auditory illusions and perceptual anomalies, these spatial sound works are actualised by acts of voluntary and involuntary ‘perceptual creativity’, thereby dramatising the key problematic that runs throughout the thesis. Designed so as to ‘choreograph’ both general and particular aspects of auditory perception, they raise questions about freedom and control; attention, distraction and absorption; and what is innate and what is learned in auditory perception.
Donal T O’Brien
 
Motivational and De-motivational Factors Influencing Seniors’ Engagement with Mobile Brain-Training Software
 
2012
 
Supervisor: Benjamin Knapp
 
Background: Recent thinking in relation to cognitive plasticity suggests that the adult brain is more malleable than was previously thought. This, together with the hypothesis that brain and cognitive reserve can act as protection against the manifestation of dementia symptoms, has led some to believe that regular cognitive exercise, or brain-training, may be an effective treatment for the prevention of dementia or cognitive decline. The research in this thesis was conducted as part of the preparatory stages of the SONIC2S study, which aspires to conduct a long term (c. 15 year), very large scale (N = 12,000), embedded clinical trial to establish whether or not the regular use of mobile phone-based brain-training software can act to prevent or delay the onset of dementia or cognitive decline.
 
Problem: The longitudinal nature of the SONIC2S trial raises serious concerns in relation to the potential for participant boredom and non-compliance. Similarly, this problem is applicable in the wider industry context where there is a need for software to be engaging enough to use over time.
 
Aims: With regard to this problem, the research sought to help enable the successful development of mobile brain-training software for seniors by addressing the following research question: What are the motivational and demotivational factors influencing seniors’ engagement with mobile brain-training software?
 
Methods: The research was conducted alongside the iterative development of an iPhone-based brain-training tool for seniors, named Brain Jog. Firstly, 4 focus groups were conducted with a total of 34 participants. The output from the focus groups was used to inform the design of the initial Brain Jog prototype (vO.5). Subsequently, two usability studies were conducted, each with 8 participants. The first study functioned as an assessment of the original prototype (v0.5) whilst the second functioned as a validation study for the changes made as a result of the findings from study 1 (vO.6). Following a further redesign [vO.7), two consecutive field trials were conducted using Brain Jog, aimed at investigating what motivational / de-motivational factors influence seniors’ engagement with brain-training software, given longer exposure to the games. The first field trial ran for a period of 1 week with 6 participants. After a further redesign [vO.8), the second field trial ran for a period of 3 weeks with 5 participants. For both field trials, participants played the games at their leisure and in their natural environment. The final two studies came as a result of publishing version 1.0 of the application to the iTunes Application Store, the purpose of which was to further investigate the importance of challenge, the most prominent motivational factor arising from the previous studies, to the game experience. Overall, 880 participants took part by downloading the application, which measured users’ perceived challenge and affective response to the games through embedded questionnaires as well as capturing performance, contextual and keystroke data for later analysis. Multiple regression analyses were carried out in order to determine the predictive power of the challenge measure as well as its relative importance in measuring the game experience.
 
Results: Analysis of the initial focus groups resulted in a ranking of 19 motivational factors, of which the top three factors were challenge, usefulness and familiarity and 15 dc-motivational factors, of which the top-three factors were usability issues, poor communication and games that were too fast. Results from the usability studies showed that an important correction in the redesigned version of Brain Jog (vO.6), used in study 2, i.e. to make the help sections interactive, was successful in improving user comprehension of how to play. Findings from the field trials revealed new and recurring factors relative to the initial focus groups and that challenge was again the top ranked motivational factor in both studies. Finally, results from publishing Brain Jog to the App Store revealed that the measure of challenge was a strong predictor of positive affect, accounting for, on average, 46.5% of the variance.
 
Contributions: The results make an important contribution to knowledge as they show that creating the appropriate levels of challenge is critical in facilitating positive game experiences and motivating an urge to play, over time. Additionally, the rankings of motivational and dc-motivational factors offer a much-needed tool for the successful iterative development of mobile brain training software for seniors. Usability can be enhanced by improving the learnability of a game through the implementation of interactive demonstration. Overall, the findings provide valuable guidelines for the design and evaluation of mobile brain-training software for seniors.
Robin Michael Price
 
Metadata and Interactivity in Sonic Art
 
2012
 
Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

Giovanni de Sanctis 

In-System Parametric Calibration for Two-Microphone Wave Separation in Acoustic Waveguides 

2012

Supervisors: Maarten van Walstijn, Colin Cowan

The separation of waves in acoustic waveguides can be used to infer information from various acoustic systems. When applied to musical wind instruments, it allows novel techniques for in-depth investigation of the physics of the instrument, including the extraction of playing information in wind instruments, bore reconstruction and impedance measurement. Although a few approaches to this problem can be found in the literature, little attention has been given to the calibration of the system and above all to the assessment of its performance. The proposed methodology is based on a frequency-domain optimisation of a small set of parameters that best describe the system. The nonlinear optimisation problem that arises is formulated in order to exploit the considerable amount of a-priori knowledge given by the theory of propagation in ducts. The resulting cost surface is typically characterised by several local minima; however, the initial guess given by the nominal values for the parameters ensures the convergence to the desired solution. The main feature of the optimisation approach is that it can be applied in system and does not require any special calibration apparatus. As a consequence, it is also possible to track slow variations in the propagation due to changes in temperature and humidity of the medium during normal operation. A procedure for the assessment of a wave separation algorithm is also proposed; this shows that, under the same conditions, the optimisation approach improves the performance of the system. Finally, the proposed frequency-domain optimisation is also suitable for other applications such as in-air direction of arrival estimation. Preliminary results on these applications are also presented.

Andrea Santini
 
The Spatial Performance Practice of Luigi Nono
 
2012
 
Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo
 
Space is discussed here as a central element in Luigi Nonos composition and performance practice. Focusing chiefly on the pieces with tape and live-electronics composed after 1960, the dissertation attempts to illustrate the major influences that have contributed to the development of the Nono’s spatial practice, with particular emphasis on his involvement with technology and theatrical practices ever since the detachment from Darmstadt in the late fifties. The musical and extra-musical implications of Nonos unique contribution to spatial music are discussed, in the hope that this work may become a useful practical contribution for future composers, performers and scholars, especially considering the lack of publications on the subject in English at the time of writing. The analysis is centred on the composer’s use of acoustic space as a conveyor of meaning, designed to stimulate active and critical audience engagement. Particular emphasis is thus placed on the use of amplification, tape and live-electronics in performance, introducing notions such as ‘doubling’, ‘con-fusion’, fragmentation, non-linearity, simultaneity, mobility and multiplicity, which inform Nono’s vision of space and are essential for a serious understanding of the composer’s engaged spatial aesthetic.’

2011

Andrew Dolphin

A portfolio of original compositions

2011

Supervisor: Paul Wilson

A collection of original works are presented that explore a broad spectrum of compositional possibilities.

Five open form non-linear works are introduced as sound toys. These are designed to be exploratory and playful compositional frameworks, or systems for composition, that are relevant to the fields of sound art and electroacoustic music. Compositional decisions are controlled or influenced by an end user (or player) in these playful open form works. Multidisciplinary compositional approaches and alternative mediums for the presentation and dissemination of electroacoustic artworks are investigated.

Five fixed media electroacoustic pieces are presented. Ideas of kinesis and kinetic energy as an external compositional agent, and multichannel spatial approaches are central to these works.

Cross-pollination of aspects of both aesthetic and technical concerns of each discipline are explored, and these fields have been allowed to feed each other.

Grant Davidson Ford
 
A Portfolio of Compositions
 
2011

Matt Green

In and Out of Context: Field Recording, Sound Installation and the Mobile Sound Walk

2011

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

This thesis chronicles the practical and theoretical research that has been undertaken in conjunction with, and in support of, the creation of a portfolio of original works. The portfolio comprises five works of sound art: two are sound installations, and three are what I call ‘mobile sound walks’. All five works are site-specific, meaning that they have been designed for a specific space, in response to a specific social and environmental context, and take into account the cultural, historic and political significance of the hosting site.

The first half of this thesis is dedicated to an in-depth discussion of the work of six artists with whom I align my own creative practice. These include the composers Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari and R. Murray Schafer, who are noted for their use of everyday sounds as compositional material; the sound installation artists Max Neuhaus and Bill Fontana, who create site-specific, environmental sound art works; and Janet Cardiff, a pioneer of mobile sound art.

In the second half of this thesis I provide a detailed analysis of my own work, with a particular focus on my mobile sound walks, which use location-aware technologies as a means to map sounds across a landscape. Such technologies have received little attention through existing sound art discourses. This thesis addresses this lack, by offering conceptual perspectives and methodological tools for understanding and producing what I call ‘locative soundscape composition’.

Throughout this thesis I draw upon a range of critical theories and method- ologies both from within, and from outside of, sound art studies, which help to shed new light on sound as it relates to, for example, the city, the politics of everyday life, the production of space and place, and the relationships between site-specific art, urban environments, and social actors.

Eoin Mullan

Physical Modelling Sound Synthesis by Digital Waveguide Extraction with Application to Computer Games and Virtual Environments

2011

Supervisor: Maarten van Walstijn

While the  first computer games synthesised all their sound effects, a desire for realism led to the widespread use of sample playback when technology matured enough to allow it. However, current research points to many advantages of procedural audio which is generated at run time from information on sound producing events using various synthesis techniques. A physical modelling branch of synthesis has emerged, primarily from research into musical instruments, and this has provided audio synthesis with an intuitive link to an environment's virtual physical parameters. Some physical modelling techniques, primarily modal synthesis, have been used to synthesise audio in real-time in interactive virtual environments.

This thesis presents a new technique called digital waveguide extraction which models the motion of a two dimensional membrane. The technique exploits the efficiency advantages of digital waveguides, which are commonly used to model one dimensional objects, by extracting harmonic subsets from the membrane's spectrum based on plane waves travelling in a single direction. The technique is shown to be mathematically equivalent to modal synthesis. A detailed method of implementation is provided, the output of which is shown to closely match that of modal synthesis in frequency content and amplitude envelope. A means of decreasing the computational complexity of the technique, while affecting minimal change to the synthesised sound, is proposed and justified. The saving can be applied to a varying degree which is useful in environments where objects can have different levels of perceptual importance and processing availability can vary due to factors unrelated to audio. Perceptual listening tests reveal that, without affecting any perceptual di erence to the sound produced, the computational complexity can be reduced by at least 72%, typically around 95% and under some circumstances beyond 99%.

Finally, the digital waveguide extraction technique has been linked to a purely geometrical analysis of a membrane. This provides an alternative understanding of the technique and indicates potential for a new wave-based approach to modelling non-ideally shaped objects and rooms.

Imogene Newland

The Piano and The Female Body: the Erotic, the Seductive and the Transgressive

2011

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

This thesis proposes an “erotics” of music performance based on a close analysis of the relation between the female body, the piano and the body of the spectator. This practice-led research consists of a written thesis and five original performance works using choreography, installation, film and photography.

As a pianist specialising in contemporary repertoire I have a particular interest in the overlap between gesture-based choreography and music performance. Through “embodied improvisation”, I explore physical expression in virtuosic repertoire using the analogy of sexual metaphor. Presenting the tactile relation between the female body and the piano as a concupiscent exchange of energies and desires, I propose a feminisation of the piano and the pianist's body based on the writings of Richard Leppert (1995 [1993]) and Susan McClary (2002 [1991]). Using choreographic theory I suggest “full” and “empty” body approaches to conceiving physical expression in music performance and how such approaches reflect on notions of gender ambiguity, abjection and the gaze (Butler: 2008 [1990]), (Claid: 2006), (Kristeva: 1982 [1980]) and (Mulvey: 2006 [1975]). The thesis concludes music performance as a seductive and transgressive act, supported by emerging theoretical findings and realised through original interdisciplinary practice-led research (Bataille: 2006 [1957]) and (Baudrillard 1990 [1979]).

Damian Ryan
 
A Portfolio of Original Compositions
 
2011

2010

Peter Bennett

The representation and control of time in tangible user interfaces (designing musical instruments for the manipulation of temporal media)

2010

Musical applications of tangible interfaces are successful because they solidify the ephemeral sounds and structure of music, presenting them to player as readily graspable bricks, pucks and tangible objects. This thesis proposes that a detailed study of how time may be used within tangible interfaces is required in order to allow a better understanding of how to design new systems with this capability.

Music and sounds are not existing physical objects; therefore representing them as objects provides the designer with a very wide selection of possibilities. Rather than following a prescriptive route of giving the designer a set of guidelines, this thesis takes the more open approach of creating a design-space and interaction model that can help synthesise new design ideas, helping to draw attention to lesser explored areas.

This thesis proposes and evaluates the temporal-MCRit interaction model; a conceptual model of how time can be used in tangible user interfaces, adapted from a standard TUI model. This new interaction model can be used to both analyse existing systems, and synthesise new ones. The aim in proposing the interaction model is to encourage the design of tangible interfaces that go beyond a simple spatial mapping of time, towards future designs that allow fluid, intuitive interaction with temporal digital media. The BeatBearing tangible rhythm sequencer is presented in this thesis as an instrument designed to explore the tTUI design space and develop the interaction model. Variations of the BeatBearing are compared to evaluate the ability of the temporal-MCRit in assisting the designer of new temporal-TUIs.

Vasileios Chatziioannou

Forward and inverse modelling of single-reed woodwind instruments with application to digital sound synthesis

2010

Supervisor: Maarten van Walstijn

Physical modelling of musical instruments aims to translate a set of physical model parameters into audio, by simulating the sound generation mechanism of the instrument(physics-based synthesis). The inverse process, physics-based analysis, addresses the extraction of the physical model parameters from the oscillations of the instrument.

Focusing on single-reed woodwind instruments, the main objective of this study is to formulate such an inverse modelling approach. Given a natural sound, measured under real playing conditions, physical model parameters are extracted, so that they can be used to resynthesise the original sound.

Under this inverse modelling scope, a physical model of the clarinet is created, with special focus on its non-linear reed-mouthpiece system. A two-dimensional distributed model is formulated, in order to study the mechanical behaviour of the reed, in the absence of acoustic feedback. This model is used to inform a lumped model formulation of the reed. Complex fluid dynamical phenomena are also incorporated in the lumped model, which is then coupled to a linear model of the instrument bore, to form a virtual representation of a clarinet.

Based on this lumped model formulation, the inverse modelling process consists of a two-step optimisation routine. Given the pressure and flow signals in the mouthpiece, the first step uses a parametrised relationship between the pressure and flow in the mouthpiece in order to estimate the parameters of a simplified model. Starting from this parameter set and simulating the oscillations of the instrument, the second optimisation step estimates the lumped model parameters, trying to match the original and the resynthesised sound. The accuracy of the process is tested based on a set of numerically synthesised data. Finally, the model is applied to various sets of measured data and the robustness of the parameter extraction process is discussed.

Brian Cullen

A Portfolio of Audiovisual Compositions for the ‘new media everyday’

2010

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

By examining three audiovisual compositions, A Natural Balance (2006), Pixel Parasites (2006) and Thrice Removed (2008), this thesis explores an approach that attempts to tackle problems associated with composing in the new media everyday. Each composition, which together I refer to as the ‘audiovisual portfolio’, addresses different aspects of the new media everyday. In a similar manner to television, film and videogames, the portfolio exploits computer graphics and sound manipulation techniques. However, there is an abundance of audiovisual content in the new media everyday. This thesis discusses the portfolio with respect to such content and covers issues relating to artistic communication in our creatively crowded society. It analyses the portfolio as both a critical response to, and an inescapable by-product of, the rich audiovisual experiences of our daily lives. In addition, it tackles the contradictory ways these experiences both excite and anaesthetise our senses.

Florian Hollerweger

The Revolution is Hear! Sound Art, the Everyday and Aural Awareness

2010

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

This thesis presents a body of practical and theoretical work, which interprets sound art as a means of encouraging aural awareness in an everyday context. Through a methodological feedback loop of artistic practice and theoretical re- flection, strategies for the aestheticisation of everyday aural experience have been developed and situated within a wider context of contemporary aural cul- ture. The current state of this culture is critically examined. The widespread claim that we live in a deeply visualised culture is questioned. It is argued that contemporary Western society can also be characterised in terms of an increasing interest in auditory perception, which the development of sound art as an artistic discipline is one symptom of The technological mediation of listening is discussed and characterised in terms of a mobilisation and individ- uation of aural experience. An overview of different listening modes informs a discussion of six different perspectives on sound as a physical and perceptual phenomenon. Various listening practices, which have been proposed in the field of sound art, are presented.  It is argued that the development of sound art as an artistic discipline can be characterised in terms of an interest in the everyday as a source of sound material on one, and as an environment for aestheticised listening on the other hand. Sound art is proposed as a means of auralising the rhythms inherent to everyday life, and subtlety is identified as an aesthetic category for doing so. It is investigated how technological mediation can be applied to the aestheticisation of mobile and social listening experiences. The above issues have been addressed by means of artistic practice. The results of this process are presented as a portfolio of eight artworks, including sound installations, public interventions, site-specific electroacoustic pieces, graphical scores and mobile hardware projects.

Miguel Ortiz

Towards an Idiomatic Compositional Language for Biosignal Interfaces

2010

Supervisors: Ben Knapp & Michael Alcorn

This thesis presents a systematic approach to music composition with and for biosignal-driven interfaces. It gives a general view of the historical developments of biosignal-related art over the last forty four years, discussing the various ways in which artists have approached the creation of works that are driven by the electric physiological signals generated by the human body. It questions some of the established paradigms for physiological-level interaction between performers and musical systems, and proposes a model in which biosignals can be regarded as elements in the definition of novel musical instruments. It presents a set of technical hardware and software tools that allow for the easy and rapid deployment of biosignal interfaces as well as a conceptual framework for music creation based on physiological signals. It discusses a series of music compositions that where created before this framework was defined, outlining the shortcomings of these works and further presents a set of works that were created following the ideas presented in this thesis. It establishes a quantifiable difference between both sets of pieces, and how an idiomatic model can be applied to biosignal-driven instruments in order to take advantage of their inherently musical characteristics for musical creation. 

2009

Alain Renaud

The Network as a Performance Space: Strategies and Applications

2009

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

Henry Vega

A portfolio of original compositions

2009

Supervisor: Michael Alcorn

2008

Tom Davis

The Ear of the Beholder: Ecology, Embodiment and Complexity in Sound Installation

2008

Supervisor: Pedro Rebelo

This thesis presents a body of practice and theory based work, based on a study of an application of models from Complexity Theory to music creation, with a focus on Artificial Life inspired techniques applied as musical processes. It identifies two important issues that are subsequently explored through the creation of sound installations. Firstly, issues pertaining to the employment of models from the field of Complexity Theory for the creation of music; a concern with transference of metaphor, a regrounding of referents in the specificity of music. Secondly, through a discussion of the employment of process in music it identifies a need to employ generative techniques that are more open in their nature, both on a structural and an interpretive level. It thus proposes a conception of process that is open in an ecological sense, in which a level of agency is prescribed to the technological agents that construct the installations, their environmental context and the human interactants within this context. It outlines a body of sound installations that exploit a concept of emergent musical structures as a process of timely perception, rather than fixed objects of empirical observation. In this conception, aesthetic meaning came forth not through the transitivity of the object but through the process of conjoined action between agents, the environment and the human interactant. This thesis formulates an understanding of sound installation as a situated and timely act that is best understood from an embodied, ecological perspective and develops a conception of engagement that is contingent on space, place and personal subjective experience. It outlines strategies that were developed through the process of creative practice for the creation and perception of complexity that exploit notions of embodiment within installation design.

Konrad Kowalczyk

Boundary and medium modelling using compact finite difference schemes in simulations of room acoustics for audio and architectural design applications

2008

Supervisor: Maarten van Walstijn

Simulation of acoustic spaces with the aim of developing virtual immersive applications and architectural design applications is one of the key areas in the field of audio signal processing. In this thesis, a complete method for simulating room acoustics using compact finite difference time domain (FDTD) schemes is presented.

A family of compact explicit and implicit schemes approximating the wave equation is analysed in terms of stability, accuracy, and computational efficiency. The most accurate and isotropic schemes based on a rectilinear nonstaggered grid are identified, and the optimally efficient explicit schemes are indicated.

Novel FDTD formulations of frequency-independent and frequency-dependent bound- aries of a locally reacting surface type are proposed, including a full treatment of corners and boundary edges. In particular, it is proposed to model generally frequency-dependent boundaries by local incorporation of a digital impedance filter (DIF), and the resulting formulae for compact explicit schemes are provided. In addition, a numerical boundary analysis (NBA) procedure is proposed as a technique for analytic evaluation of the numer- ical reflectance of the presented boundary models. The digital impedance filter model is also extended to model controllable surface diffusion based on the concept of phase grating diffusers.

Results obtained from numerical experiments and numerical boundary analysis confirm the high accuracy of the proposed boundary models, the reflectance of which is shown to closely approximate locally reacting surface theory for different angles of incidence and various impedances. Furthermore, the results indicate that boundary formulations based on the identified accurate and isotropic schemes are also very accurate in terms of numerical reflectance, and outperform directly related methods such as Yee’s scheme and the standard digital waveguide mesh. In addition, one particular scheme - referred to as the interpolated wideband scheme - is suggested as the best FDTD scheme for most audio applications.

Ravi Kuber

Developing an assistive haptic framework for improving non-visual access to the web

2008

Supervisor: Graham McAllistair

Haptic technologies have the potential to help the blind community overcome many of the challenges experienced when accessing the Web.  With limited design guidance available to web developers, haptic effects could be selected arbitrarily for use on a web page, with minimal consideration given as to how the sense to touch could assist a blind user.  Poor interface design is known to reduce the quality of the subjective browsing experience.  In this thesis, research has been conducted with the aim of developing effective spatial and navigational cues to address issues of accessibility on a web interface.  Using a structured participatory-based design approach, force-feedback cues have been developed to represent objects commonly found on a web page (e.g. images and hyperlinks).  The application of a modified version of the approach, has led to the design of tactile pin-based stimuli, which provides similar levels of structural and navigational support to the force-feedback cues.  Findings have informed a library of software, with accompanying guidelines for their application on a web page.  These are housed within a haptic framework.  This tool provides a vital reference for developers, allowing them to replicate effects on their own sites, and offers support during both the design and evaluation processes.  It is left to the discretion of the developer to include the mappings that are most appropriate to the context of the web-based task, and ensure that these cues are targeted to the needs of a broad range of blind individuals when using a tactile or force-feedback device.

Chui Chui Tan

An adaptive architecture to support web graphics exploration for visually impaired people

2008

Supervisor: Graham McAllistair

This thesis employs a user-centred approach to design and develop an extensible, adaptive system, the ACTIVE system to improve Web graphics accessibility for visually impaired people.  It is capable of adapting to its context of use such as graphics type, assistive technologies and user profiles in order to choose a suitable graphical multimodal application for the user.  Additionally, the system consists of a user model which contains information about a user in terms of their background, experience levels, and preferences.  By performing a series of experiments with visually impaired people, it reveals that people with similar profiles and experience levels prefer certain exploration conditions.  Consequently, a list of adaptation rules have been derived and applied in the system.  By using a feature-based approach, the ACTIVE system learns about the users from their previous interaction with applications and presents to them with their most preferable and appropriate interface.  The ACTIVE system was designed in accordance with usability and accessibility guidelines.  The system was evaluated with visually impaired people and the results reveal that it has improved the overall experience and satisfaction of people with sight loss when accessing graphics non-visually.  Furthermore, the adaptation accuracy level of the ACTIVE system increases with the degree of system use, where 96.67% of accuracy was achieved in the experiments.  This thesis shows the possibilities in developing a coherent, adaptive system by integrating various variables such as graphics types, assistive technologies and multimodalities.  It also demonstrates that adaptation can bring benefits to people with visual impairments in enhancing their graphics accessibility.

2007

David Fee

Dereverberation of acoustic signals via adaptive filtering

2007

Supervisor: R Woods

This thesis investigates the blind dereverberation problem and proposes the use of predictive deconvolution as a tool for single channel dereverberation. Prediction deconvolution uses the principles of linear prediction to estimate a high order, minimum phase, inverse room impulse response directly from the reverberant audio signal’s linear predictive residual. Simulation results are present for speech and music sources reverberated with image-method generated room impulse responses. Due to the minimum phase property of predictive deconvolution and the nonminimum phase nature of rooms, higher-order statistics based adaptive filtering is also investigated. The subband kurtosis maximization adaptive filter is evaluated with speech and music sources. The room transfer function can be modelled as the product of a minimum phase and allpass component and predictive deconvolution, by reducing the effect of the minimum phase component, is shown to improve the stability and performance of the kurtosis maximization algorithm. Simulation results show up to 6dB reduction in reverberant error energy achieved with this combined approach. The use of linear predictive coding, to extract a decorrelated residual signal prior to dereverberation, is investigated with simulations demonstrating the effect of predictor order on performance. A sinusoidal-plus-residual model is proposed for audio signals with a large amount of harmonic content, such as the male singing voice, and shown to improve dereverberation performance. Finally listening test opinion scores are presented. These show that predictive deconvolution processed speech was judged to be closer to the anechoic source than the reverberant version by 65% to 70% of subjects; scores recorded for female speech processed with the combined predictive deconvolution and kurtosis maximization approach are higher than scores for kurtosis maximization alone.

Jason Geistweidt

A portfolio of original compositions

2007

Supervisor: Michael Alcorn

This dissertation focuses on a portfolio of original musical compositions created at the Sonic Arts Research Centre between February 2003 and June 2006.  The dissertation includes an analysis of the following works: Trans-mission; METROPOLIS ‘04; Terrestrial Variations; The orchestra of the noises of war ..; A letter from the trenches of Adrianopolis ...; Combine (after Rauschenberg); and Fuinneoga.  In his critique, the composer puts forward his own internal reasoning for the compositional act and points to his understanding of what are the salient features of the portfolio, discussing issues of function, form, and control.  In addition to the critiques, the portfolio includes scores, recordings, and software of the compositions discussed.

Martin Kuster

Inverse Methods in Room Acoustics with Under-Determined Data and Applications to Virtual Acoustics

2007

Supervisor: Maarten van Walstijn

With the advent of commercial surround sound systems there is a growing demand for a system that can convert existing mono and stereo recordings into a surround sound recording. A part of this problem is to generate the reverberation for the additional audio channels from the reverberation in the mono or stereo recording. In this thesis, it is investigated whether a room model can be constructed from one or two room impulse responses and in which a virtual surround sound recording can then be performed. The estimation of the room model parameters is based on the three well-known room acoustic models; the geometrical acoustic model with specular reflections, the eigenmode model and the diffuse field model. It is shown that the scope with the geometrical acoustic and the eigenmode model is limited but it is possible to obtain useful and consistent results for the room volume and the source-to-receiver distance from the diffuse field model. Based on these findings, the problem of generating multiple room impulse responses from one or two input room impulse response(s) is approached slightly differently. The very early part of the room impulse responses (the early reflections) is generated by a geometrical model with specular and diffuse reflections. The remainder of the room impulse responses are copies of the input room impulses obtained by convolution with a set of filters that control the coherence between them. The values for the coherence are given by expressions for the coherence between microphones with first order directivity in a diffuse field and these expressions are derived in the thesis. The results from objective and subjective tests indicate that this method works successfully.

2005

Rachel Hosltead

Portfolio of original compositions

2005

Supervisor: Michael Alcorn

This Portfolio of Original Compositions highlights the development of my compositional approach during the years 2001 to 2004. Nine pieces of music are assessed:  Rain between the Showers for tape, For Two for oboe, clarinet and trumpet, Jatayu for flute/piccolo/alto flute and 8-channel tape, dissolving into light for clarinet, viola and piano, One.. many for solo soprano, flute, oboe, percussion, double bass, 4 drum kits, DJ, small vocal ensemble, choir, Balinese gamelan and electronics, Enchant for tape, Around the Corner:  Souvenirs of a day on Rathlin for high and low voice, kayagum and bass viol, Thar an bhfarraige gheal (Over bright sea) for seannós singer, Irish traditional fiddle, 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and tape and Music for Metropolis for amplified violin and double bass, electronics and tape.

Through this body of work, issues of style, technique, expression and form, and the roles of context, collaboration, intuition, compositional and pre-compositional processes are explored.