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project . 2021 - 2022 . Closed

Feedback Musicianship Network

UK Research and Innovation
Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: AH/T013664/1
Funded under: AHRC Funder Contribution: 36,001 GBP
Status: Closed
31 May 2021 (Started) 30 May 2022 (Ended)

The Feedback Musicianship Network (FMN) responds to the need to fill current gaps in knowledge around feedback instruments; we need a common language to describe their complex behaviour, and better understandings of: luthiery in hybrid instruments, virtuosity, composition and notation techniques. The FMN brings stakeholders in feedback musicianship together to establish a new research agenda addressing these gaps, and to build a community hub. This will stimulate and guide future developments in this field, supporting a new generation of instruments and musical practices. Feedback instruments offer a radically different way of engaging with musical practice compared to traditional instruments. They are defined by recirculation of signals through the instrument, which give the instrument 'a life of its own'; the player must guide the instrument rather than controlling it. They possess 'a stimulating uncontrollability' (Ulfarsson, 2019). The use of musical feedback began in the 1950s. Now, a new generation of instruments are using hybrid digital/electronic/acoustic technologies to refine the behaviour of the feedback, creating entirely new musical experiences, and providing fertile areas for creative new instrument designs and modes of musical practice. An example is the Feedback Cello, an acoustic cello augmented with string pickups and exciters; the string signals pass through external effects, and return to the cello through the exciters. This creates a feedback loop which the player navigates by damping and stimulating the strings, or by controlling the external effects. This is a radically different way of playing the cello, effectively turning it into a new instrument. In order to support the next generation of these instruments, we need to advance our understanding of how to shape the behaviour of complex feedback loops, and how to design and build instruments which are essentially hybrids, mixing complex signal processing with traditional acoustic luthiery, and electromechanical transducers that link these two domains. We also need to gain better understanding of the culture surrounding these instruments. This research demands interdisciplinary approaches involving music, engineering, mathematics, philosophy, design and computer science. The FMN will bring these groups together, along with practicing artists and industry representatives, for workshops and symposia at three themed network meetings: (1) Design, Making and Innovation, Aalborg University Copenhagen, (2) Musicianship and Notation, Berlin, (3) Approaches to Signal Processing, University of Sussex. The network will also run two longitudinal activities linking the three meetings: (1) composition of a piece for feedback ensemble, (2) progress reports from musicians learning and developing feedback instruments. These meetings will enable the community to establish a future research agenda, stimulate new activity in instrument design supported by knowledge exchange, and map out creative practices in feedback musicianship in order to guide future cultural engagement. The FMN has a strong interdisciplinary set of confirmed participants, and is guided by a highly qualified advisory board. It will engage further participants through live streaming and archiving of network events. The FMN will disseminate research though three peer reviewed journal articles, the key output being a research review and future research roadmap. Another key output of the network will be a new online hub for feedback musicians; we aim for this to become a focal point for the community to support future developments. The network will engage with the public at four concerts, also available online. Through concerts, knowledge exchange, and online sharing, the network will create impact by engaging the wider public in feedback musicianship, stimulating the design of new instruments and artistic practices, and by creating new dialogues between researchers and the public

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