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Church Belles: An Interactive System and Composition Using Real-World Metaphors

WAITE, Si (2016) Church Belles: An Interactive System and Composition Using Real-World Metaphors. Proceedings of the international conference on new interfaces for musical expression,, 16. pp. 265-270. ISSN 2220-4806

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Abstract or description

This paper presents a brief review of current literature detailing some of the issues and trends in composition and performance with interactive music systems. Of particular interest is how musicians interact with a separate machine entity that exercises agency over the creative process. The use of real-world metaphors as a strategy for increasing audience engagement is also discussed.
The composition and system Church Belles is presented, analyzed and evaluated in terms of its architecture, how it relates to existing studies of musician-machine creative interaction and how the use of a real-world metaphor can promote audience perceptions of liveness. This develops previous NIME work by offering a detailed case study of the development process of both a system and a piece for popular, non-improvisational vocal/guitar music.

keywords: Interactive music systems, real-world, metaphor, physical model, popular music

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Church Belles explores how creating and using an interactive system for popular songwriting based on a physical metaphor impacts the composition process and the liveness of performances. Composing the piece was central to the research process (Candy and Edmonds, 2018) which involved a cyclical, iterative process of literature review, system-building/composing and reflection. While common in more experimental styles, the use of interactive music systems in popular music tends to be limited (Marchini et al, 2017). Several studies have demonstrated the potential for physical metaphors to be used as a design strategy for interactive systems (Johnston et al, 2009) that both facilitates audience understanding and focuses the compositional process. In this piece, church bells were selected as the metaphor they are a highly familiar cultural object with a simple physical mechanism, capable of producing complex timbres and unpredictable rhythms. Church Belles explores the impact of using an interactive system throughout the songwriting process. Creating the system therefore began before any songwriting took place, maximising the system’s influence over each stage of the composition. The research reveals strategies for working with interactive systems in highly-structured popular music contexts, which have been disseminated by a paper and demonstration at New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) (Waite, 2016). Performances with the piece demonstrate high levels of several aspects of liveness (Sanden, 2013). Findings have been shared with international academic and professional audiences at Innovations in Music 2017 (London); Tracking the Creative Process in Music 2017 (Huddersfield) and Loop 2017 (Berlin). Recordings of the piece and accompanying commentary have been published online and the piece has been performed at Sonorities 2016 (Queen’s University), MTI concerts (De Montfort University) and NoiseFloor (Staffordshire University). The software for the piece is available for free download.
Uncontrolled Keywords: INCL
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies > Film, Sound and Vision
Event Title: New Interfaces for Musical Expression
Event Location: Brisbane, Australia
Event Dates: 11-15 July 2016
Depositing User: Si WAITE
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2016 15:20
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:45
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