Andrew Chong, Vivian Liu & Owen Hsiao
Our midterm project proposal is an immersive installation piece exploring the following characteristics:
- Altering specific musical traits to intensify their capacity to induce chills/elicit an emotional response
- Eliciting agency and involvement of the “audience”, who becomes an active participant in the experience
- Minimal “cool” media that is fully engaging but open to perceptual interpretation
One version of the experience is as follows.
The participant enters a dark, enclosed room alone. Faint lights signal hidden affordances. After a lull, Andrew Bird’s Yawny at the Apocalypse begins to play.
Movement towards each general direction induces at first subtle changes in the light/music. For instance, the participant’s position would alter the relative loudness of different voices in the piece. Stepping deeper into the room would intensify the volume (and perhaps clarity) of heavy strings in the piece, with birdsong and light strings fading somewhat, so the participant has the experience of being inside an environmental performance of the music.
Participants can thus “play” with the music by altering their position and exploring hidden affordances within the room.
The minimal conception is as above. Other planned/potential variations include:
- Utilizing the full capabilities of music software to create other effects that tie directly (sudden shifts in “volume, timbre or harmonic pattern” ), or tangentially (enhancing reverberation, altering beat) to eliciting chills
- Using biosensors (etc. empatica watches measuring galvanic skin response, blood volume pulse, heart rate, heart rate variability) to measure effects of different variations/experimental arms, as well as a potential input into the environment
There has been some work on the specific musical traits that tend to induce a strong emotional response in the listener. One researcher, Martin Guhn, a psychologist who has run experiments with different musical pieces, provides an analysis of these traits. These pieces:
- “began softly and then suddenly became loud”
- “included the abrupt entrance of a new “voice”, either a new instrument or harmony”
- “they often involved an expansion of the frequencies played”
- “Finally, all the passages contained unexpected deviations in the melody or the harmony.”
Below is a spectrogram of Andrew Bird’s piece.
Other possible pieces (with different corresponding actuation) are below. Many of these pieces display similar traits or interesting variations on Bird’s piece.
The project taps into past work in John Chuang’s biosensors course. Some of the work can be viewed here: http://musiconthebrain15.blogspot.com/