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Audio-scores, a resource for composition and computer-aided performance

Bell, Jonathan (2016). Audio-scores, a resource for composition and computer-aided performance. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)


This submission investigates computer-aided performances in which musicians receive auditory information via earphones.

The interaction between audio-scores (musical material sent through earpieces to performers) and visual input (musical notation) changes the traditional relationship between composer, conductor, performer and listener. Audio-scores intend to complement and transform the printed score. They enhance the accuracy of execution of difficult rhythmic or pitch relationships, increase the specificity of instructions given to the performer (for example, in the domain of timbre), and may elicit original and spontaneous responses from the performer in real-time.

The present research is inspired by, and positions itself within traditional European notational practices. Through a reflection on the nature and function of notation in a variety of repertoires, this study examines how my own compositional research – and its reliance on audio-scores— relates to and differs from the models considered. Following the realisation of pieces investigating complex rhythms and the use of recorded samples as borrowed/found material, results have proven to be highly effective with a group of vocalists, with works in which audio-scores facilitated the precise realisation of microtonal material. Audio-scores also proved particularly useful in sitespecific ‘immersive’ concerts/installations. In these settings, audio-scores mitigate challenges associated with placing musicians at an unusual distances from one another, e.g. around the audience.

This submission constitutes an original contribution to knowledge in the field of computer-aided performance in that it demonstrates how musical notation and current ubiquitous audio technologies may be used in tandem in the conception and performance of new works. Recent findings include a Web application currently being developed at IRCAM. The application is based on a local server and allows the synchronous delivery of audio/screen-scores via the browser of the performers’ smartphones, tablets, or computers.

Keywords: audio-score, click track, composition, computeraided performance, earpiece, microtonality, music, notation, performance, screen-score, server, voice.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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