Using interactive software as a conceptual tool : an examination of cognition in improvised musical performance
Viewing musical improvisation in the light of psychology and cognitive science, this thesis will explicate the rationale behind the development of a software based audiovisual interface for use in improvised solo instrumental performance. The evolution of the performance environment is presented along with the theories and concepts that have shaped its progress. The opening chapter will review the terms of reference used throughout the work and will set a boundary around the area of examination. Chapter two will place musical improvisation within the context of human behaviour and in so doing will draw upon theoretical discourse from the fields of evolutionary psychology and cognitive science. This chapter will explore the nature of volition and its relationship with subconscious processing, drawing upon anecdotal evidence from improvising musicians as linkage between theory and practice. Chapter 3 augments the study of the inner world of the improvising musician by encompassing the communicative functions of this activity. The boundary of this study does not embrace musical interactions between musicians in a dialogic sense, my remit here is to explore behavioural response to sensory information and the mechanism by which this may or may not manifest itself in conscious thought. Chapter 4 sees the development of a theoretical model with which to contextualise the practice of musical improvisation and to provide the foundation from which to evolve the architecture for an experimental performance environment. This leads in Chapter 5 to a discussion around the function and nature of tools as problem solving devices looking at conceptual and physical tools and the mapping of functionality. The discourse in this chapter is aimed at providing a rationale for the development of a software based tool to address some of the issues raised previously in the study. The concluding chapter will document the evolution of a software based audio-visual performance environment, mapping its various incarnations and its relationship to the theoretical model developed over the course of the pervious chapters. This chapter will refer to documentation and audio visual material on CD Rom and DVD found in Appendix l.