Computer Musicking: Designing for Collaborative Digital Musical Interaction

Between 2008 and 2012 I completed  a PhD within the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London. I was supervised by Dr Nick Bryan-Kinns and Prof Mark Plumbley, and was one of the first PhD candidates to be an active member of both the Interaction, Media and Communication research group and the Centre for Digital Music. My research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), under a Doctoral Training Account Award.

I was examined by Dr Robin Laney (The Open University) and Dr Tim Blackwell (Goldsmiths, University of London) and successfully defended my thesis in August 2012,

My thesis can be downloaded here.

During my time at Queen Mary I contributed to Sensory Threads, presented two projects as part of Surface Tension at the London Science Museum, created the Retweeting installation for the first QMedia Open Studios, and chaired the Art Exhibition for the 2012 SuperCollider Symposium. I was a teaching assistant for various undergraduate and master level degree modules including Paul Curzon‘s award winning Procedural Programming module, gave lectures on audio programming and music technology,  and was involved in supervision for a number of student projects concerning multi-touch technology and musical interaction.

I presented research at a number of international conferences, including New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), in Sydney 2010, and British Human-Computer Interaction 2012. See my Publications page for details.

For my thesis, I developed various collaborative music making environments which allow groups of people to jointly create, edit and perform music using a shared on-screen software environment which is distributed across multiple computers.

Using these interfaces I ran a series of user studies to evaluate different interface features to support musical collaboration. In total I studied thirty five groups of musicians using my software – over one hundred musicians in total.

I collected a range of data, including automatic logs of user interaction, video footage, and group interviews. I employed a range of statistical methods to compare user interaction with the software, and produced visualisations to investigate how the groups of people chose to organise their virtual workspaces. I also used qualitative methods including video transcription, Thematic Analysis and Grounded Theory. The qualitative methods helped me to identify problems the groups encountered, and to gain insight into how the musicians worked together whist using my software.

As well as contributing a methodology for studying computer based group musical interaction, I proposed a number of design implications for future collaborative music environments, and presented the design for a hypothetical music environment which embodies many of these recommendations.


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