Transforming musical performance: activating the audience as digital collaborators

York, A. 2020. Transforming musical performance: activating the audience as digital collaborators. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster School of Arts

TitleTransforming musical performance: activating the audience as digital collaborators
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsYork, A.

Digital technologies have transformed the performance practice, recording and distribution technologies, economy and sonic landscape of music in a process of change that began in the early 1980s. Recent technological developments have opened up the possibility of embodied interaction between audiences and performers, reframing music performance as a collaborative improvisatory space that affords Interactive Musical Participation.

The research in this practice-based thesis looks at the relationship and experience of audience members and musicians exploring Interactive Musical Participation within the wide stylistic framework of contemporary jazz. It also studies the potential for the creation of compositional, technological and performance protocols to enable successful Interactive Musical Participation. This has been achieved through a process of mapping the methodology behind the composition, technical infrastructure, performances and post-performance analysis of a series of musical artefacts.

Cook (2001 and 2009) suggests that researchers in this field should “Make a piece, not an instrument or controller” and this dictum has influenced the development of the technical infrastructure for this research. Easily accessible and low-cost digital audio workstations Ableton Live (2017) and Logic Pro X (Apple, 2019) as well as the digital protocols Open Sound Control (OSC) ( have been utilised to deliver the programming and networking requirements. A major innovation stemming from this project has been the development of the Deeper Love Soundpad App, a sample playback app for Apple smartphones and iPads, in collaboration with Dr. Rob Toulson.

The theoretical background to this research has been informed by actornetwork theory, the sociological approach developed by Bruno Latour (2005), Michel Callon (1986) and John Law (1992). Actor-network theory (ANT) provides a framework for understanding the mechanics of power and organisation within heterogeneous non-hierarchical networks. Mapping and analysing the ANT networks and connections created by the research performances has provided valuable data in the Interactive Musical Participation

File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Publication dates
PublishedSep 2020

Related outputs

Transforming musical performance: the audience as performer
York, A. 2019. Transforming musical performance: the audience as performer. in: Hepworth-Sawyer, R., Hodgson, J., Paterson, J. and Toulson, R. (ed.) Innovation In Music London Routledge. pp. 3-23

Deeper Love
York, A. 2018. Deeper Love.

Deeper Love, Soundpad App
York, A. 2018. Deeper Love, Soundpad App. Apple App Store.

Keyboard techniques
York, A. 2003. Keyboard techniques. in: Moore, A.F. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Blues and Gospel Music Cambridge Cambridge University Press. pp. 130-140

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