Shape Song interface with 3 users across the country

Shape Song

Shape Song

Shape Song sought to investigate the relationship between cross instrumental control (ie multiple musicians controlling the parameters of a single instrument) and musical engagement in a network music environment. Network music is a field of research concerned with how geographically separated musicians can make music together in real time. Inside the application, each musician controls a stick figure which represents their synthesizer. The body part colors of the stick figure control synthesis parameters, and everyone can change anyone's stick figure colors. Therein lies a major aspect of the cross instrumental control. Each participant also has control over squares and circles which correspond to percussion instrument patterns and background lines, respectively. Lastly, every participant can control the intensity slider which adjusts the background brightness and the cutoff frequency of a low pass filter.

The three conditions in the study allowed for no cross instrumental control, some cross instrumental control, and complete cross instrumental control. In these three conditions, the second condition fared the best overall. It fostered the greatest amount of musical engagement, enjoyment, and connection. Participants routinely commented that the first condition was too constraining while the third condition bred an environment akin to absolute chaos. Interestingly, this implies that a balance between individual control and chaos is necessary to create enough interest and excitement without becoming overwhelming.

Headshot of Daniel Ethridge

Daniel Ethridge

Daniel is a versatile pianist, composer, sound designer, live sound engineer, and educator. He graduated in May of 2021 from the Master of Science in Music Technology Program at Georgia Tech. Before Tech, he attended Brevard College in Brevard, NC, and earned a bachelor’s degree in music and mathematics. His current interests lie heavily in interactive music systems, multimedia, video game audio, and how technology can help create a more inclusive music experience for everyone. Notable projects he worked on while at Georgia Tech include his master’s project, the Magnebacus, and a prototype for a short, original video game named Anteronesia. He plans to work for a couple years and then return to school for a PhD. After finishing his doctorate, he wants to continue working in industry for several years. Later, he wants to find a teaching position somewhere to pass along everything he has learned to the next generation of musicians.

Magnebacus link:

Anteronesia link:


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