_derivations and the performer-developer : co-evolving digital artefacts and human-machine performance practices

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This thesis concerns the development and use of interactive performance systems designed for improvised musical performance. Written from the perspective of a performer-developer, the research traces the development of personal approaches to designing for musical interactivity in human-machine performance, culminating in the development of the _derivations interactive performance system and related creative outcomes. The contributions and outcomes of this research project are as follows: - The development of novel computer music techniques for use in interactive musical performance; - A novel self-reflective study of the development and use of interactive musical performance systems from the perspective of a performer-developer; - Theoretical perspectives on the design and use of interactive musical performance systems. In addition to the published thesis, this research has generated significant creative outcomes in the form of software, studio recordings, documentation of live performances, video documentation and a publicly available website dedicated to the _derivations system. These creative outcomes are also presented as significant contributions of this research. The creative practice underpinning this research is presented as a narrative of development, tracing advancements in the author’s practice towards the stabilisation of the _derivations system and its accompanying performance practice. Designed for use by instrumental improvisers, _derivations uses live-sampling and timbral matching techniques to generate autonomous responses to the live performance of an improvising musician, engaging the performer in a playful, improvised musical dialogue. This thesis outlines both formative programming experiments and stabilised software artefacts, tracing the author’s creative practice to reveal the iterative and cyclical patterns of development engaged in throughout this research. Employing a practice-based research approach, this project uses the creative practices of software programming and interactive musical performance to surface issues, concerns and interests concerning human-machine performance practice. A self-reflective methodology is employed to engage with emergent research themes arising throughout the development of my creative artefacts. The thesis concludes with three extended reflections-on-action that interrogate theoretical concerns relevant to the interactive computer music community. The first of these reflections addresses the relationship between human and material agencies in the practice of the performer-developer, whilst the second reflection interrogates the concept of musical interpretation in the context of human-machine performance. The final reflection proposes symbiosis as a novel interactive metaphor in the development of interactive musical systems.
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