Sound guiding action: the effect of timbre on learning a new percussive DMI for beginner musicians

Olivia B Smith, Matthew Rodger, Maarten van Walstijn, and Miguel Ortiz

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

  • Year: 2023
  • Location: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Track: Papers
  • Pages: 358–363
  • Article Number: 50
  • PDF link

Abstract:

Learning to play a digital musical instrument (DMI) may be affected by the acoustic behaviour of that instrument, in addition to its physical characteristics and form. However, how the timbral properties of an instrument affect learning has received little systematic empirical research. In an exploratory study, we assessed whether timbral feedback from a physical model based percussive DMI influences beginner players’ performance in a musical learning task. We contrasted the timbral richness of a metallic plate physical model with an amplitude modulated pink-noise signal that was comparable in response to input controls but with relatively reduced timbral features. Two groups of participants practiced three sets of simple beats using their respective version of the instrument (physical model or pink noise), over the course of an hour. Their performance was recorded throughout and assessed in the form of rhythmic timing accuracy. Results showed that participants’ performance in both sound groups significantly improved throughout the task. Timing accuracy was significantly better in the physical model group for one out of three sets of beats. We argue that the timbral feedback of a musical instrument may influence beginner’s playing experience, encouraging further research into how this could benefit DMI design.

Citation:

Olivia B Smith, Matthew Rodger, Maarten van Walstijn, and Miguel Ortiz. 2023. Sound guiding action: the effect of timbre on learning a new percussive DMI for beginner musicians. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. DOI:

BibTeX Entry:

  @article{nime2023_50,
 abstract = {Learning to play a digital musical instrument (DMI) may be affected by the acoustic behaviour of that instrument, in addition to its physical characteristics and form. However, how the timbral properties of an instrument affect learning has received little systematic empirical research. In an exploratory study, we assessed whether timbral feedback from a physical model based percussive DMI influences beginner players’ performance in a musical learning task. We contrasted the timbral richness of a metallic plate physical model with an amplitude modulated pink-noise signal that was comparable in response to input controls but with relatively reduced timbral features. Two groups of participants practiced three sets of simple beats using their respective version of the instrument (physical model or pink noise), over the course of an hour. Their performance was recorded throughout and assessed in the form of rhythmic timing accuracy. Results showed that participants’ performance in both sound groups significantly improved throughout the task. Timing accuracy was significantly better in the physical model group for one out of three sets of beats. We argue that the timbral feedback of a musical instrument may influence beginner’s playing experience, encouraging further research into how this could benefit DMI design.},
 address = {Mexico City, Mexico},
 articleno = {50},
 author = {Olivia B Smith and Matthew Rodger and Maarten van Walstijn and Miguel Ortiz},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression},
 editor = {Miguel Ortiz and Adnan Marquez-Borbon},
 issn = {2220-4806},
 month = {May},
 numpages = {6},
 pages = {358--363},
 title = {Sound guiding action: the effect of timbre on learning a new percussive DMI for beginner musicians},
 track = {Papers},
 url = {http://nime.org/proceedings/2023/nime2023_50.pdf},
 year = {2023}
}