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Title: Actuated Acoustic Instruments: Relationships and Mind-sets with "Fill Up Jar" and "Ctenophora" (original music compositions)
Authors: Britt, Neil Cameron
Advisors: Trueman, Daniel
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: actuated instruments
augmented instruments
electromagnetic actuation
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Researchers in the burgeoning field of actuated acoustic instruments seek to endow musical instruments with new capabilities through the use of electromagnetic and electromechanical technologies. These added technologies inevitably alter the relationships of performers, composers and audiences to the affected instruments. This document explores those various relationships and some of the effects changes to those relationships have. The first chapter examines unaltered acoustic musical instruments through the lens of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to establish a framework for looking at musical instruments generally. Instruments are considered as interfaces for music making, with inputs and outputs that engage performers in various ways. Audiences' relationships with instruments are considered here as well, particularly in terms of how the audience's understanding of the performer/instrument relationship contributes to an embodied musical understanding. With that framework in place, Chapter 2 looks at specific musical works in which an intervening mechanism or technology alters an instrument's behavior in some way. The piano serves as a case study of these issues with canonical works by Cowell and Cage illustrating two distinct ways the performer/instrument relationship may be altered. The chapter also examines two actuated piano systems, works written for them, and how design choices give insight into how the systems' designers and composers imagine their systems being used. The third chapter begins with a brief discussion of actuated acoustic instruments generally. Following is an in-depth examination of an electromagnetically actuated vibraphone, the EMvibe. Technical aspects of the EMvibe are discussed with special attention paid to the ways in which technical decisions are informed by the acoustic and mechanical properties of the vibraphone. Questions about interfacing are considered as well: How are the new capabilities accessed? How might those capabilities be used musically? How do the interface choices affect musical possibilities and vice versa? Finally, taking a 30,000-foot view of the field, the concluding chapter considers why composers and instrument designers might be interested in altering instruments at all. What do they gain by deliberately disrupting or upsetting their relationship to a previously familiar instrument? The compositions "Fill Up Jar" and "Ctenophora" complete this dissertation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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