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Face to Face, Byte to Byte: Approaches to Human Interaction in a Digital Music Ensemble


Hattwick, Ian (2011). “Face to Face, Byte to Byte: Approaches to Human Interaction in a Digital Music Ensemble”. MFA Thesis, University of California, Irvine.


As a composer and performer of improvised music, I find my interest drawn to the relationships formed during the act of music-making. These relationships take shape inside an ensemble, between the performers and the composer, and between the ensemble and the audience. Using Digital Musical Instruments in musical performance affords us new ways of thinking about and exploring these relationships. These instruments also provide performative and compositional challenges which need to be overcome in order to realize a successful performance.

This paper draws on concepts from the Physical Computing community in order to present instruments that solve these challenges while also describing new strategies for musical collaboration. These strategies are examined in the work of early digital music ensembles The Hub and Sensor Band, in the recent work of the Princeton Laptop Orkestra, and in work I have completed with the Physical Computing Ensemble at UC Irvine. These ensembles are examined not only for how they use technology, but also what kind of relationships are created in their performances, how those relationships are influenced by their modes of performance, and what kinds of musical meaning we can draw from their performances.


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