How will I find answers to my questions? How do I know if I discover something meaningful and valid to people?
My first part of the study will focus on scanning journals and conferences for papers in my research area to see where lots have been done and where there still are questions to ask. I will interview composers and producers of game music to document their process to identify obstacles and challenges. I will examine and compare existing middleware used to integrate music into games to find areas where music is limited by the technology.
I will keep on developing my own interactive music framework (iMusic – more on that in future posts) to test different solutions for music integration into interactive applications. I will use iMusic to build an interactive, audiovisual survey where I can collect feedback from (hopefully) lots of users and evaluate their respons to the musical experience. My aim is to get a better understanding of how different technical solutions affect the listening experience for different listeners.
This is my current strategy and method. It might well be refined along the way. If any of you have ideas, if you want to get connected and involved in any way. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Many people asks me: “what is your research question?”, “what is your subject?”, “what exactly will you do??” and other valid and good questions.
The broad answer is “more knowledge in the area of music in interactive applications”, but there are of course much more to say. I also wouldn’t be totally surprised if the target moves a bit when I start trying to catch it, but here is a glimpse of what can be expected:
- I will scan research done so far in the subject
- I will network with other nerds around the world searching for answers
- I will evaluate how different technical solutions (for producing and integrating music into interactive applications) affect the end result for different listeners.
- I will focus on the challenges in the process of making (live) performed, traditional music for interactive applications rather than computer generated, experimental music.
- I will continue building my interactive music framework to solve some yet unmet needs in this area.
It’s good to know WHAT you do, WHY you do it to find a way HOW to do it. In research, art and industry alike. I will try to answer these three questions regarding my own research in three blog posts. Please feel free to comment and give me your thoughts. It will be a valuable input to my future texts.
WHY am I doing this study?
I recently heard that kids growing up in Sweden today listen to more music through games (on smart phones, tablets and gaming consoles) than they do through more “traditional” channels like Spotify and Youtube. Ancient formats like CD seem to be completely outdated.
There are many indications of “Virtual Reality” becoming the next big thing in the entertainment industry and there has been a huge trend on the web where static web pages with information is turned into social, interactive experiences. We also see a trend in museums, exhibitions and even concerts where interactivity, feedback and participation from the visitor/audience/consumer is more and more an expected part of the experience.
The combination of audio and visuals in an interactive environment require new technical solutions and skills which at the moment leave most trained musicians, composers and producers outside.
You can also argue that the current available technology for integrating music into games and other interactive applications heavily restricts how the music can be used.
I’m passionate about music, musicians ability to communicate and the joy of interaction. To make it possible for this to happen even in the new age of interactive applications being the primary way for people experience music, lots of new knowledge, technologies and methods are needed. I hope my research can play a part in the answer to that need.
Music With Me is a piece of music where the visitor controls the changes of sections, the intensity of the piano, bass and cajun and the synth lead phrases. It’s recorded by Hans Lindetorp in a standard, linear manner with the A-section played with the intensity going from low to high across 16 bars. The B-section was then played with the intensity decreasing across another 16 bars.
- The first challenge I encountered is related to all sorts of production of music where you have to follow a metronome. I’m quite used to it but still it doesn’t feel great to stick to a steady beat all the time. Especially not when going from one intensity level to another. To make the recording work this time I had to quantize my piano playing pretty thoroughly, especially near barlines, to make it repeat well.
- The second challenge was the lack of lead-ins between the different intensities. I had to play the music without leading to the next level to make the loops work and therefor I wasn’t allowed to ramp either up or down before going to a new level. This challenge is not solved in my demo.
- The third challenge was to make the synth phrases fit the harmonies in the different sections. I found a way of labelling my files in a way that made them lock to the correct section. Another solution would have been to use even fewer notes to make all phrases fit all chords. This challenge would be very important to solve for future implementations, though. Both for different sections but also for different bars or even smaller fractions of a bar to make sure the Motifs always are selected according to the current harmony.
This example is a part of a doctoral study at Royal College of Music and Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. More information, papers, presentations, demos etc will be found at hans.arapoviclindetorp.se. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org