The audience as co-creators—a challenge for composers of interactive music

Nov 08, 2012

Interactive music contradicts the traditional notion of musical composition by focusing on the audience's desires instead of those of the originator. A new doctoral thesis in Musicology from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows how computer-based interactive music can be composed and what the consequences might be for the co-creating audience, composers and programme developers.

'Interactive music is available in video games, smartphones, computer-based art, toys and various aids used in health care. One example is computer games, such as , where music and dance are created together with the users,' says Anders-Petter Andersson, author of the thesis.

Anders-Petter Andersson has explored how a composer can compose computer-based interactive music that is musically satisfying for an audience consisting of both laymen and skilled musicians.

One of the challenges of interactive music is that it makes the audience co-creators. In order to make music, the composer therefore needs to consider what motivates the co-creators to interact. This varies with the situation, from simple playfulness to musical ambitions, collaboration and background listening.

'This means that the composer must create musically/aesthetically satisfying music that is open to laymen. Open in the sense that it motivates them to interact in various ways. The computer and its ability to respond, remember, wait and vary over time is an important prerequisite in this context.'

Another challenge is to design a computer programme and physical interface that motivate co-creators in different situations to interact and create music. The artistic-creative research contribution of the thesis consists of a composition and design of two interactive music installations (Do-Be-DJ and Mufi).

Andersson's text is the first Swedish doctoral thesis in Musicology that addresses the possibilities to use knowledge within pop, jazz and improvisation to encourage interaction with laymen within computer-based interactive music.

'I see a future potential of interactive music in the fields of health and quality of life, for example among people with disabilities and dementia,' says Andersson. 'The positive health effects of music are well documented in both medical and other research.'

Anders-Petter Andersson is active in the group MusicalFieldsForever.com for interactive art. He has conducted research within interactive music and health since 2006, at present in the research project for families with disabled children, www.RHYME.no.

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