Treating performance as a problem-solving task, an important aspect of the work of musical interpretation is to discover or make plausible units of coherence at multiple time scales, and to communicate this analysis to the listener. In so doing, the performer influences and shapes the reception and understanding of the music. Over a series of studies, I shall show how computer analysis of performed music can reveal the shape and form of musical structures that emerge in expressive performance. Superimposing these performed structures on score-based information not only shows how these structures are made but also why, thereby enabling more nuanced understanding of the decisions that make for good, and perhaps great, performances.
Music expressivity is one kind of creativity; another involves the generation of note material in the form of composition or improvisation. I shall describe several projects touching upon machine creativity, from human-machine improvisation to music generation with long-term structures based on repeated patterns and tension profiles. The most recent experiments in machine creativity uses physiological rhythm templates learned from electrocardiographic traces of cardiac arrhythmias to create collage pieces from performances of existing works.
Similarities between music and the human heartbeat have long been noted, but mainly in reference to normal heart rhythms. I shall show that abnormal heart rhythms exhibit behaviors akin to the variations introduced in performance and composition, thereby opening the door to applying a host of analytical techniques hitherto reserved for music to cardiac arrhythmias. This novel musical view and description of abnormal heart signals translate to technologies that can facilitate personalized treatment and diagnoses.
Finally, in a study with heart patients with biventricular pacemakers, a collaboration with the Barts Heart Centre, we demonstrate that brain responses to structurally salient events in live music performance can have direct impact on cardiac electrophysiology, with implications for improving the way music is used in therapeutics.