Humans and Machines: Playing Together Dangerously

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review


Contemporary concert music, combining human players and ‘live electronics’, situates human–computer interaction in an aesthetically rich territory. In practice, however, its human players often report that they have to give up expressive agency; and the real-time technology is focused on ‘making it work’. The show must go on, but at a cost. Our project attempts an inversion, with music composed to invite fully expressive musicianship, meshed with electronics that is designed to seem wilfully autonomous. There are tensions here, between the unalike parties in the chamber music, and between detailed scoring and adaptive realisation. We plan to work with that tension, and see how far we can push it. What happens when it just goes too far? What then happens aesthetically ‘in’ the music? What, especially, are the feelings and experience of the human performer? We have brought together an interdisciplinary team – a composer, professional classical musicians, and academics from anthropology, philosophy, classics, and computer science – to engage in a cycle of critical making and co-produced analysis. We hope to find interesting results both for music-making, and for wider HCI and AI research. The project takes place during spring–summer 2019. This paper reports on our findings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2019
EventRoyal Musical Association 55th Annual Conference - University of Manchester & Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sept 201913 Sept 2019


ConferenceRoyal Musical Association 55th Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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