Presentation @ NIME 22

The Effect of Visualisation Level and Situational Visibility in Co-located Digital Musical Ensembles

Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs) offer new opportunities for collaboration, such as exchanging sounds or sharing controls between musicians. However, in the context of spontaneous and heterogeneous orchestras, such as jam sessions, collective music-making may become challenging due to the diversity and complexity of the DMIs and the musicians’ unfamiliarity with the others’ instruments. In particular, the potential lack of visibility into each musician’s respective contribution to the sound they hear, i.e. who is playing what, might impede their capacity to play together. In this paper, we propose to augment each instrument in a digital orchestra with visual feedback extracted in real-time from the instrument’s activity, in order to increase this awareness. We present the results of a user study in which we investigate the influence of visualisation level and situational visibility during short improvisations by groups of three musicians. Our results suggest that internal visualisations of all instruments displayed close to each musician’s instrument provide the best awareness.