This PhD project will investigate the co-design of digital musical instruments which support rich sensory experience and responsiveness to the aesthetic values of collaborating musicians.
Digital musical instrument (DMI) design typically involves a balance of engineering skill, artistic sensibility and engagement with a surrounding musical community. Participatory design and co-design methods are well established across many domains of engineering and human-computer interaction, often starting from conversational processes of ideation and conceptualisation. However, asking people to verbally describe hypothetical instruments that do not yet exist tends to yield a limited pool of creative ideas, even as musicians excel at discovering the creative potential of new digital and physical objects. This PhD project instead explores musical instrument co-creation as a bottom-up process of curiosity and exploration, wherein musicians discover interesting sonic phenomena in physical or digital systems and develop those phenomena into instruments that respond to their own musical values.
This PhD is part of the RUDIMENTS project, a UKRI-funded ERC Consolidator Grant exploring the cultural implications of engineering decisions in music technology. The successful candidate will work as part of a multi-disciplinary team considering the aesthetics, culture, politics and ethics of music technology as part of a reciprocal process of design and analysis. The successful candidate will join the Augmented Instruments Laboratory (http://instrumentslab.org) in the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London.
The ideal candidate should have experience in the design of digital musical instruments or similar technologies. Relevant technical skills include audio programming (particularly real-time audio) and electronic hardware design, including sensors and embedded systems. Some practical musical experience is essential (whether as performer, composer or other role, in any genre, with or without formal qualifications). Research experience is also desirable, for example in human-computer interaction, electronic or design engineering, musicology or media studies.
Applicants of any nationality are invited to apply. Applications are particularly welcome from groups traditionally under-represented in engineering and music technology research, including neurodivergent or disabled individuals. Applicants should typically have a Master's-level qualification at UK Distinction or high Merit level (or international equivalent), but applications will be considered from those with first-class undergraduate degrees with research experience, or from people with non-traditional career paths.
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