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SARC / Drake Music NI 2016

In 2015, the first collaboration between SARC and DMNI, led by Dr. Koichi Samuels, aimed to enable musicians with physical disabilities and learning difficulties to independently compose and perform their own music through custom-built music technology devices. The event was held under the theme “Designing Inclusive Interactions” and brought together student interaction designers with disabled musicians to collaboratively design accessible musical interfaces and perform improvised music with them in an inclusive ensemble performance. 

This year SARC has put together an exciting programme to continue their collaboration with DMNI under the theme “Performance without Barriers”. The programme involves a 6-month long collaborative design project, which started with a design event at SARC (7th - 9th June). Five interaction designers worked with pupils from local special educational needs schools and brain injury rehabilitation charity to collaboratively design customised accessible musical interfaces. Two subsequent phases of this project involved going to the participants to show them progress of the designs and gather feedback. The project ends on November 27th with a showcase performance at The Sonic Lab, SARC. Alongside the design project, an international networking meeting for partners working in the area of inclusive music making, digital design, disability and well-being also took place on 10th June 2016.

This collaboration has impacted positively on the quality of life of disabled musicians across Northern Ireland. Participants’ composition and performance skills are enhanced by using accessible musical interfaces through a collaborative design process that matches physical and cognitive abilities to an appropriate gestural interface. Designers and musicians alike are given the opportunity to express their creativity on equal terms as collaborating improviser musicians.

Performance without Barriers 2016 design project will culminate in a public performance at Ireland’s longest running contemporary music festival, the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music.