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Music Composition as an Act of Cognition: ENACTIV – interactive multi-modal composing system

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 February 2011

Miroslav Spasov*
School of Humanities/Music, Clockhouse, Keele University, Keele, ST5 5BG, UK


ENACTIV is a project that addresses, explores and offers solutions for converting a performer/composer's expressive sonic and kinetic patterns into continuous variables for driving sound synthesis and processing in real-time interactive composition. The investigation is inspired by the achievements in cognitive science, in particular Umberto Maturana and Francisco Varela's Santiago Theory (1980, 1987), in which the authors explain how the process of cognition arises through ‘structural coupling’ – a mutual influence among living beings, and living beings (humans in particular) and the environment, and how this process stipulates certain patterns of organisation driving the individual's behaviour.

The project investigates how a composer/performer's cognitive archetypes, which have been developed via his or her ‘structural coupling’ with the social and natural environment and expressed through voice and unwitting hand gestures, can be associated with or ‘mapped’ onto sound synthesis and processing parameters in such a way that the system will play an active role and act reciprocally, involving a certain degree of variation and unpredictability at its output. The aim of the project is to develop a creative tool which will allow professional musicians, multi-media artists and non-expert participants to engage with multi-modal improvisation in an intuitive way.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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