Difficult duets – musicians, machines, and performance on the edge

  • Farwell, Neal J (Principal Investigator)
  • Jordan, Fiona M (Co-Investigator)
  • Habgood-Coote, Josh T (Co-Investigator)
  • Liveley, Genevieve (Co-Investigator)
  • Bennett, Peter D (Co-Investigator)
  • Bennett, Daniel T (Co-Investigator)
  • Kanno, Mieko (Co-Investigator)
  • Mertin, Ulrich (Co-Investigator)
  • Wiltshire, Harriet (Co-Investigator)
  • Hayes, Sinead (Co-Investigator)

Project Details


This project is about the experience of humans interacting with new technology. More particularly, it investigates the experience of complex, real-time, intellectually and emotionally demanding interactions, where the technology seems to have a will of its own; and where the relationship is pushed through thresholds of challenge, discomfort, and breakdown. With such intimate but non-human interlocutors – how can humans solve problems preemptively? How do we cope in the moment? How do we recover? What new ideas emerge from the irreconcilable?

By focusing on a particular domain – contemporary art concert music, combining human players and ‘live electronics’ – and the experience of elite classical professional musicians, we use their expertise as a high-resolution microscope into the human-machine interaction. To question what we are seeing, we combine diverse academic disciplines.

We will make a series of composed test pieces, investigate the performers’ experience of playing them in workshop, document and discuss that experience, and feed it iteratively into further making.

Difficult Duets is supported by Seedcorn Funding from the Brigstow Institute, University of Bristol:
Alternative titleDifficult Duets
Effective start/end date11/03/1931/07/21


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