Improvisation in interactive music systems

Gifford, Toby (2011) Improvisation in interactive music systems. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This project investigates machine listening and improvisation in interactive music systems with the goal of improvising musically appropriate accompaniment to an audio stream in real-time. The input audio may be from a live musical ensemble, or playback of a recording for use by a DJ. I present a collection of robust techniques for machine listening in the context of Western popular dance music genres, and strategies of improvisation to allow for intuitive and musically salient interaction in live performance. The findings are embodied in a computational agent – the Jambot – capable of real-time musical improvisation in an ensemble setting. Conceptually the agent’s functionality is split into three domains: reception, analysis and generation. The project has resulted in novel techniques for addressing a range of issues in each of these domains. In the reception domain I present a novel suite of onset detection algorithms for real-time detection and classification of percussive onsets. This suite achieves reasonable discrimination between the kick, snare and hi-hat attacks of a standard drum-kit, with sufficiently low-latency to allow perceptually simultaneous triggering of accompaniment notes. The onset detection algorithms are designed to operate in the context of complex polyphonic audio. In the analysis domain I present novel beat-tracking and metre-induction algorithms that operate in real-time and are responsive to change in a live setting. I also present a novel analytic model of rhythm, based on musically salient features. This model informs the generation process, affording intuitive parametric control and allowing for the creation of a broad range of interesting rhythms. In the generation domain I present a novel improvisatory architecture drawing on theories of music perception, which provides a mechanism for the real-time generation of complementary accompaniment in an ensemble setting. All of these innovations have been combined into a computational agent – the Jambot, which is capable of producing improvised percussive musical accompaniment to an audio stream in real-time. I situate the architectural philosophy of the Jambot within contemporary debate regarding the nature of cognition and artificial intelligence, and argue for an approach to algorithmic improvisation that privileges the minimisation of cognitive dissonance in human-computer interaction. This thesis contains extensive written discussions of the Jambot and its component algorithms, along with some comparative analyses of aspects of its operation and aesthetic evaluations of its output. The accompanying CD contains the Jambot software, along with video documentation of experiments and performances conducted during the project.

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ID Code: 49795
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Brown, Andrew & Dillon, Steven
Keywords: interactive music systems, generative, algorithmic composition, beat tracking, metre induction, onset detection, polyphonic, pitch tracking, machine listening, improvisation
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 19 Apr 2012 03:37
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2012 03:37

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