Personal tools

The Science and Technology of Music

Home Activities Student Colloquia Music Technology D. Andrew Stewart - "Digital Musical Instrument Composition: composition.mapping.composition"

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

D. Andrew Stewart - "Digital Musical Instrument Composition: composition.mapping.composition"

D. Andrew Stewart is a Doctoral student in the Music Composition Area of the Schulich School of Music, McGill University.

  • Music Technology Student Colloquium
When Jan 20, 2009
from 12:30 PM to 01:30 PM
Where New Music Building, McGill University, 527 Sherbrooke St. West, A512 (in the library - entrance on 3rd floor)
Add event to calendar vCal
computer music composition and performance
interactive software systems,
design and implementation,
gestural-controlled audio systems, 
digital instrument / controller design
     A composer benefits tremendously from the interaction with the musicians who will eventually interpret the composition. Feedback from musicians often takes the form of spontaneous reactions, based on musical intuition and intelligence. We observe the musicians’ initial reactions to the space (acoustic and poetic), for example, created by their interfacing with technology. Moreover, a composer receives firsthand knowledge, from musicians, regarding the effectiveness of written symbols or graphical interfaces for music notation. The relationship between composer and performing musician sets up a paradigm that can be followed in order to establish fundamentals, from which evaluative statements can be made concerning digital instruments.
     Any user of new technology—in this case, an innovative digital musical instrument—must take heed of an observation made by Ihde (1990), speaking about transferable and embedded technology:  “there is no such thing as ‘an’ equipment ... without its belonging to some set of culturally constituted values and processes”. Aspects of technology that are embedded in our culture may inform how we go about combining an instrument’s sound and the physical gesture producing the sound.  With clear boundaries in place, armed with musicians’ insight, and considerations from a philosophy of technology, the composer goes about developing appropriate mappings for physical ‘playing’ gestures, such that the physical gestures combine successfully with a sound, and subsequently have an impact on the structure of a composition in a musically meaningful way.
     D. Andrew Stewart is in the final year of doctoral studies in music composition, at McGill University, under the supervision of Professors John Rea and Sean Ferguson. His research in the field of computer music and interactive electronics has been supported by CIRMMT, IDMIL and the Digital Composition Studios, at McGill. 
Ihde, D. (1990). Technology and the Lifeworld. Bloomington and Indianapolis:  Indiana University Press.
Document Actions