Organised Sound

Articles

Imposing a Networked Vibrotactile Communication System for Improvisational Suggestion

Lauren Hayesa1 c1 and Christos Michalakosa1 c1

a1 Department of Music, University of Edinburgh, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, UK EH8 9DF

Abstract

This paper describes the implementation of NeVIS, a local network system that establishes communication between individual performers, as well as between laptop and performers. Specifically, this is achieved by making use of vibrotactile feedback as a signalling tool within an improvisational setting. A discussion of the current developments regarding the use of networks within improvisation is presented, followed by an outline of the benefits of utilising the haptic feedback channel as a further sensory information pathway when performing digital music. We describe a case study of the system within the context of our computer-mediated improvisational duo Můstek, involving piano, percussion and live electronics. Here, a cueing system or framework is imposed over the improvisation and is transmitted directly to the skin of the performers via tiny vibrations. Additionally, performers may make use of simple vibrotactile signals to enhance traditional visual cues that are often employed within performance. A new work, Socks and Ammo, was created using NeVIS, and was presented at various international conferences and festivals. We also tested the system itself within a group of postgraduate researchers and composers. Qualitative evaluation of the musical outcomes as experienced both by the performers and by the listeners at these events is offered, as well as implications about the nature of collaborative music-making.