Interactive performance for musicians with a hearing impairment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Architecture

Abstract

Musicians with a hearing impairment often use the vibration of their instrument, or the surface to which it is connected, to help them feel the sound that they create. Well-known musicians who have used this approach include Beethoven with the piano and Dame Evelyn Glennie with percussion instruments. There are different degrees of hearing impairment so in some cases the sound may still be perceptible to the musician. However, profoundly deaf musicians tend to rely on vibration. This can limit the type of musical instrument that can be played and the other musicians with whom they can play. When musicians with normal hearing play together they have access to a wide range of cues that facilitate musical interaction. These include the sound from their own instrument and other instruments, as well as visual or verbal contact with other musicians or a conductor. During a group performance, hearing-impaired musicians don't have access to all of these cues. This significantly limits the potential for musical collaboration.

This interdisciplinary research in the arts and humanities reaches out to the science of sound and vibration. It is concerned with understanding, enabling and enhancing musical interaction between hearing impaired musicians playing classical, pop, jazz, folk, or any other kind of music. It seeks an understanding of the musical cues needed by hearing-impaired musicians to facilitate group performance, and a technological solution based on vibration to provide the required cues. The research will look at the potential for using individual vibrating performance decks on which each musician can stand or sit, as well as vibration pads that can be attached to the body, and arrays of vibrating bars that transmit vibration signals from the different instruments. The research will give insight into how vibration signals can be tailored to suit different musicians and different types of music. In most cases the vibration signal will be a combination of the sound from other instruments. Sometimes this will include an electronic timing device such as a metronome. For improvisation sessions, the vibration of the deck/pads/bars might also be used to attract the attention of other musicians, or to facilitate communication between musicians when sign language or lip-reading during a performance is not possible.

Research into the tactile perception of music in this proposal makes use of art- and psychology-based insights into musical performance combined with a science-based insight into vibration. The research outcomes will be relevant to current and future generations of hearing impaired musicians and allow them to create music and collaborate interactively with a wide range of musicians. It will also open up pedagogic possibilities for teaching music to hearing impaired children. For charitable organisations, the research will help develop new strategies for music education as well as integration of the hearing impaired into mainstream education.

Planned Impact

The outcomes of this research will benefit current and future generations of hearing impaired musicians. It will help them to create music and collaborate with a wide range of hearing and hearing impaired musicians. This will enhance quality of life, musical creativity and musical performance.

This research has the potential to have a positive impact on music education. In schools for the deaf and for charitable organisations such as Music and the Deaf it will open up possibilities for the teaching of music to hearing impaired children. The findings will therefore help in the development of new strategies for music education as well as the integration of hearing impaired children into mainstream education.

Researchers in the field of music psychology will gain greater insight into the collaborative performance of music for both hearing and hearing-impaired musicians. Acousticians, musicians and sonic artists will benefit from the development of novel methods for converting music to a vibration signal and transmitting it to the human body. In the future it is hoped that this will inspire artists to consider and exploit the medium of vibration in communication and the arts using a range of media, including music.

Dissemination and communication of the project findings will take place through conference papers, a one-day meeting at RNCM, academic journal papers, magazine articles, media interviews and demonstrations. These give the opportunity to disseminate the project findings to musicians, charities, researchers and artists. They also allow discussion on implementation of the research, directions for future research, and possibilities for commercial production of the technological solutions.

All the above benefits and outcomes of this research relevant to hearing impaired musicians, music psychology, music education, art and creativity are realisable within the next decade.

Publications

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Fulford, R (2014) Sight, sound and synchrony: effects of attenuating auditory information on duo violinists behaviours in performance in International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition

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Ginsborg, J (2014) Interactive performance: Towards the use of vibrotactile technology by musicians with hearing impairments in International Symposium on Performance Science 2013 - European Association of Conservatoires

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Hopkins, C (2014) Interactive performance for musicians with hearing impairments using the vibrotactile mode in Institute of Acoustics 40th Anniversary conference

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Hopkins, C (2013) Inherent and learnt abilities for relative pitch in the vibrotactile domain using the fingertip in International Congress on Sound and Vibration (ICSV20)

 
Description We have (a) identified key aspects that facilitate interactive performance between musicians with a hearing-impairment such as non-audio cues and (b) established the fundamental requirements needed for musicians with a hearing impairment to play together using vibration (i.e. using the vibrotactile mode).
Exploitation Route Could be used in other applications such as smartphones, cars etc - anywhere where information might usefully be transmitted using the vibrotactile mode.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

URL https://stream.liv.ac.uk/kgfymdz4
 
Description We are using the University of Liverpool HEIF impact acceleration funding to loan the vibrotactile technology for music lessons in primary and secondary schools. This work is only just starting now (Feb 2018), so it is at an early stage.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description HEIF impact acceleration funding
Amount £9,200 (GBP)
Organisation University of Liverpool 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 06/2018
 
Description Internet video for the project providing 'proof of principle' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Proof of principle' to show the potential for vibrotactile technology, this video shows three musicians playing 'Day Tripper' (The Beatles) in the anechoic chambers of the Acoustics Research Unit at Liverpool. They are playing using vibrotactile feedback without any visual or auditory feedback.



Uploaded to

https://stream.liv.ac.uk/kgfymdz4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaun3bYkYgo

'Proof of principle' to show the potential for vibrotactile technology, this video shows three musicians playing 'Day Tripper' (The Beatles) in the anechoic chambers of the Acoustics Research Unit at Liverpool. They are playing using vibrotactile feedback
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Making music with a hearing impairment 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Making music with a hearing impairment
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Radio interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 20 minute radio interview on the AHRC project for National Radio New Zealand

Listen again at...

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/nights/audio/2558569/vibrotactile-technology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The role of music in coping with sensory impairment 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The role of music in coping with sensory impairment
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Uses and experiences of hearing aid technology by musicians with a hearing impairment 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Uses and experiences of hearing aid technology by musicians with a hearing impairment
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013