Improvisation skills are an important part of any jazz musician’s training. However, rehearsing improvisation alone is difficult, because the basis for good improvisation is other musicians playing in a way that supports the soloist in reinforcing new ideas. Improvisation comes from the dynamic interplay between everyone participating. Thus it appears that it is difficult for rehearsal apps, which provide a static backing track, to support training this technique.
Drawing on the fields of sonification and physiological computing, this project proposes using a pulse driven musical sonification to control effects on the backing track to make it more dynamic, and investigates whether this can raise the musicians’ desire to use an app for practicing improvisation through an experiment with 20 jazz musicians.
The prototype used Arduino with the SEN-11574 Pulse Sensor and was based in the existing software iReal Pro, since many jazz musicians use this to rehearse. A version of the song “Autumn Leaves” was created to mimic the iReal recording and an experiment was carried out comparing a sonified version to a normal version.
The experiment showed potential for the design approach that used sonification driven by pulse to introduce a feeling of improvisation in the backing track. However the contents of the sonification must be developed further, since a statistical analysis revealed an insignificant difference in the sonified version’s ability to support the rehearsal of improvisation compared to the normal version.
In collaboration with Simon Dyrberg von Spreckelsen and Sophus Bénée Olsen.