Past Agile Seed Funding Recipients

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2023-2024

Round 1 (April 2023)

Liliana Araujo, Isabelle Cossette, Kristie Ibrahim, Selena Scheede-Bergdahl (McGill University) & Felipe Verdugo (U. de Montréal)

  • Project title: Physical readiness of music students post-pandemic
  • Abstract: A new generation of musicians is beginning post-secondary studies with almost three years of their development under physical and social restrictions imposed by the pandemic, raising questions about their physical readiness to perform. This pilot study consists of a fitness screening with post-secondary music students to gather baseline data on levels of fitness (cardiovascular and respiratory capacity, strength, endurance), sedentary behavior, health literacy and injury status. This study will inform applied initiatives and generate new questions for research on musicians’ physical health, playing stamina and movement efficiency. The funding will support a student assistant and the acquisition of testing equipment.
  • Keywords: physiology, biomechanics, psychology, music performance, exercise science
  • End of project summary report: To come April 2024

Dominic Thibault, Caroline Traube, Sarah Lecompte-Bergeron (U. de Montréal), Sean Wood, Jean Rouat & Adam Mezaber (U. de Sherbrooke)

  • Project title: Embedded Neural Audio Synthesis for Musical Expression
  • Abstract: In this project, we aim to study state-of-the-art generative AI techniques in the context of musical creation. Key to this interdisciplinary collaboration is the development of a proof-of-concept hardware implementation of a neural network-based synthesizer module capable of generating audio in real-time based on in-context model training.
    The Agile Seed Funding will be used to form an interdisciplinary team with expertise in electroacoustic music, machine learning, and electrical engineering. A knowledge gain in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) is expected, resulting in an up-to-date literature review and interactive audio synthesis embedded on GPU-based platform.

    As AI-based generative models continue to produce increasingly astonishing results, the research potential in machine-controlled and machine-generated synthesis in a musical context is high. We aim to develop a long-term research project with artistic communities to extend literacy and autonomy of artists in the world of these generative machine learning processes.
  • Keywords: Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Music Creation, Audio Synthesis, Embedded Systems
  • End of project summary report: To come April 2024

Isabelle Cossette, Liliana Araujo & Ninad Puranik (McGill University)

  • Project title: The Performance Simulator: Building software robustness and scenario diversification for improved user-friendliness
  • Abstract: Over the last years, a performance simulator has been acquired and used to mimic performances while recording the playing of training musicians. The long-term goal of this facility is to provide performance opportunities close to in-vivo situations (currently lacking for many students) in which physiological/psychological data will be gathered to inform the development of pedagogical tools. Currently, while the hardware is functional, the software and the limited library of scenarios need fine-tuning. This funding seeks support to develop a robust and user-friendly software, a diversified library of performance contexts and to collect user feedbacks – all through students’ hire.
  • Keywords: Software Programming, Sound and Video Recording and Editing, Performance Sciences, Music Performance Pedagogy, Virtual Reality
  • End of project summary report: To come November 2024

Jason Noble, Takuto Fukuda (McGill University) & Caroline Traube (U. de Montréal)

  • Project title: Exploring the Semantics of “Timbre-Textures” with Granular Synthesis
  • Abstract: We are studying meanings listeners associate with musical sounds in contemporary music. In previous studies, participants rated excerpts of contemporary music on semantic scales. In the present study, we invert the task: participants produce their own musical sounds in response to semantic prompts, using a Max patch. They position cursors on 2D surfaces to modify inharmonicity, pitch ambitus, central pitch height, and attack density, emulating the soundworlds of sound mass and granular synthesis composers (e.g., Ligeti, Xenakis, Truax). We seek funding to pay participants and hire RAs (who will be CIRMMT students) to run subjects and help with statistical analysis. 
  • Keywords: musical semantics, music perception, sound synthesis, granular synthesis, contemporary music
  • End of project summary report: To come April 2024

Round 2 (September 2023)

Elizabeth Zimmerman, John Mac Master, Carolina Meloto, Isabelle Cossette, Scetlana Komarova, Theodora Nestorova, Sara Hashemi & Yu-Yao Chang (McGill University)

  • Project title: Effect of muscle activity and jaw movement during singing on vibrato and oral health
  • Abstract: Singers precisely control the position of their jaw; however, it is not known how jaw movement and muscle activity affect vibrato quality and oral health. Jaw overuse is associated with increased risk of painful temporomandibular disorder (pTMD), causing disabling pain in orofacial muscles and/or the jaw joint. This study is an intersection of music pedagogy and oral health in singers. The aim is to measure jaw movement (MOCAP) and orofacial muscles activity (sEMG) during singing and relate it to vibrato regularity (audio analysis) and oral health (pTMD diagnostic criteria).
  • Keywords: Singing, vibrato regularity, orofacial pain, muscle activity, jaw movement
  • End of project summary report: To come October 2024

Olivier Robin, François Grondin, Loïc Boileau (Université de Sherbrooke) & Eric Desmarais (Sporobole)

  • Project title: Evaluation of Bluetooth 5.1 for setting up wireless loudspeaker arrays that could be automatically located and cross-calibrated
  • Abstract: Sound field synthesis (SFS) using loudspeaker arrays calls for a precise knowledge of loudspeakers positions and of the acoustic environment. It requires substantial installation effort and limits the use of SFS to prescribed configurations. Also, an array can only be extended by connecting (wiring) more devices to a central hub. Bluetooth 5.1 specification introduced positioning capabilities. Being built in an Internet of Things paradigm, Bluetooth 5.1 allows a mesh network in which all devices communicate with each other. The research project aims to evaluate the potential of Bluetooth 5.1 to create wireless, self-locating and cross-calibrating loudspeaker arrays.
  • Keywords: Audio engineering, IoT, Sound Field Synthesis, Beamforming
  • End of project summary report: To come October 2024

2022-2023

Round 1 (April 2022) - no applications

Round 2 (October 2022)

Jérémie Voix, Tigran Avestissian (ÉTS) & L. Alexis Emelianoff (independent)

  • Project title: Fundamental research on magnetoacoustics
  • Abstract: The National MagLab is a cutting-edge magnetics research facility in the USA that allows researchers in academia and industry to conduct experiments for free.
    We propose to initiate a relationship with the NML and conduct experiments to investigate magnetic materials and processes for the eventual creation of new musical instruments and sonic processes. Kinetic, electromagnetic, and magnetic activity can all be transduced to sound with piezo, induction, and conventional microphones. Extracting and organizing sound from magnetic sources allows a new insight into the behavior of energy and matter, as well as creating a new, elusive language for music.
    https://nationalmaglab.org/
  • Keywords: magnetics, acoustics, new instruments, new soundworlds
  • End of project summary report: To come April 2024

Suresh Krishna, Fabrice Marandola (McGill University) & Simone Della Bella (Université de Montréal)

  • Project title: Music Performance: bridging scientific, musicological and artistic approaches
  • Abstract: Unlike music perception, there is relatively little scientific literature that focuses on music performance. We aim to develop a quantitative process model of music performance, based on data collected from musicians (of different degrees of expertise) as they perform music both in the lab and live, and during sight-reading, memorized performance of familiar pieces, ensemble performance, improvisation, etc. The data streams will include gaze- and pupil-tracking, autonomic measures, motion capture, audiovisual recordings, and motor timing. In particular, we will explore the correlates of musical attributes like piece difficulty/familiarity, surprise, musical expertise, the feeling of flow, and perceived/self-experienced quality of performance. 
  • Keywords: psychology, cognitive science, musicology, computational modeling, psychophysiology
  • End of project summary report: Krishna-Dalla Bella-Marandola: Agile Seed report 2022-23

2021-2022

Round 1 (April 2021)

Jean Rouat, Olivier Robin, Patrick O'Donoghue (Université de Sherbrooke) & Olivier Valentin (McGill University)

  • Project title: Sounds of onomatopoeias 
  • Abstract: Complex relationships exist between sounds, colors and shapes. Onomatopoeias, sometimes called 'sound words' phonetically imitate or imply the sound that they describe, but their fundamental underlying mechanisms have been scarcely studied. This project aims to study the effect of letter spacing in simple onomatopoeias on the sound they suggest. A protocol including a web interface has been setup, in which participants must vocalize various onomatopoeias (AAAAA, A A A), these vocalizations being recorded and later analyzed in terms of emitted frequency versus letter spacing. The project aims to initiate online testing, including gathering and analysis of results.
  • Keywords: Acoustics, Sound perception, Auditory neuroscience
  • End of project summary report: Rouat-Robin-O'Donoghue-Valentin Agile Seed Report 2021-22

Round 2 (September 2021)

Myriam Boucher, Dominic Thibault (Université de Montréal) & Fabrice Marandola (McGill University)

  • Project title: Polytope XXI : Développement d'une sculpture-instrument percussive électroacoustique
  • Abstract: Projet en recherche-création visant la construction d’un instrument monumental augmenté par l'électroacoustique et destiné à être jouée par l'ensemble à percussion Sixtrum. L'instrument prendra la forme d’une harpe géante audio-lumineuse occupant l'espace scénique, une structure autoportante composée de câbles lumineux sur lesquels les musiciens jouent. Le financement Agile Seed permettra de rechercher les matériaux et technologies les plus efficaces pour le développement dudit instrument. Nos pistes de recherches nous amènent présentement à rechercher les matériaux des câbles utilisés (acier, nylon ou autre), les systèmes d’accroches, les composantes électroacoustique (transducteurs, micro piézoélectriques, câbles, amplificateurs audio) et les dispositifs lumineux (DEL, DMX).
  • Keywords: Musique mixte, lutherie numérique, audiovisuel, traitement du signal audionumérique, architecture.
  • End of project summary report: Boucher-Marandola-Thibault: Agile Seed Report 2021-22 (report in French.)

2020-2021

Round 1 (April 2020)

Alain Berry, Lévy Leblanc, Olivier Robin (Université de Sherbrooke) & Philippe-Aubert Gauthier (UQAM)

  • Project title: A concrete explanation to sound directivity of musical instruments and musicians/instruments interaction with rooms 
  • Abstract: Jürgen Meyer often demonstrated the interaction between music and acoustics using concrete examples (a musical ensemble plays a piece for the same audience but in different rooms). This project follows this idea. Two players of the same instrument play the same piece in either a hemi-anechoic or a reverberant room (side-by-side rooms, a musician per room). Three objectives are pursued (1) defining five ideal pieces and instrument (2) 3D-printing sound directivity patterns of chosen instruments and (3) preparing a didactic document for the event. People will be able to see and hear sound directivity, while better understanding room-instrumentalist relationships.
  • Keywords: room acoustics, musical acoustics, performers playing techniques
  • End of project summary report: Berry-Leblanc-Robin-Gauthier Agile Seed Report 2020-21 Round 1

Edda Bild, Cynthia Tarlao, Richard Yanaky, Daniel Steele (McGill) & Johanne Brochu (Université Laval)

  • Project title: Sound fundamentals for urban professionals: a course for city-makers 
  • Abstract: The funding will allow us to develop and test an innovative course for private-sector urban design professionals, educating them on creatively thinking about sound in a design and planning manner (e.g. ambiance, added sound), not just as a nuisance or an isolated problem. The applicants (Sounds in the City team & CIRMMT members) teach the basics of sound in 6 3-hour lectures, as it relates to policy, health and design, encouraging the mobilization of academic (soundscape) knowledge into city-making. In-person and online versions of the course combine technical knowledge (perception, cognition, experience) and practical implications (by example), mobilizing and testing the knowledge in exercises, and experimenting with diverse support tools and technologies.
  • Keywords: Soundscape and acoustic design; sound studies; urban planning and design; sound art; education
  • End of project summary report: Bild-Tarlao-Yanaky-Steele-Brochu Agile Seed Report 2020-21

Jérémie Voix, Danielle Benesch (ÉTS) & Stefanie Blain-Moraes (McGill)

  • Project title: "Listen to your heart": crowdsourcing of in-ear heartbeat sounds at the Montréal Science Center 
  • Abstract: Biosignals - such as heartbeats and breathing - can be recorded inside an occluded earcanal. These audio signals could be used to monitor emotions for wearable applications. However, there is a lack of data mapping these in-ear audio recordings to discrete emotional states. To create such a corpus, we will extend the Montréal Science Center exhibit “Mes émotions à fleur de peau” and record in-ear audio signals in controlled conditions with hundreds of visitors. In exchange for their time, we will offer visitors playback of their ranging heartbeat sounds and visualizations created with the corresponding spectrograms.
  • Keywords: Audio signal processing, biosignal processing, psychophysiology, artificial intelligence
  • End of project summary report: Voix-Benesch-Blain-Moraes Agile Seed Report 2020-21
 

Round 2 (September 2020)

Jeremy Cooperstock, David Marino, Max Henry & Pascal Fortin (McGill)

  • Project title: Conveying paralinguistic cues and context while teleconferencing
  • Abstract: Teleconferencing is essential for conducting remote work, and COVID-19 has made such technology truly ubiquitous. Major teleconferencing platforms offer a degraded conversational experience due to a loss of essential contextual information. Lost features include: ambient noise, or various paralinguistic cues such as eye contact. Our study aims to supplement such lost non-verbal features with multimodal stimulation, providing a greater sense of contextual awareness and mutual understanding to conversation partners. An example is developing visualizations that convey ambient noise and facial cues to interlocutors when they are in situations where such cues may be hidden, such as during a conference presentation.
  • Keywords: Human computer interaction, psychology, audio signal processing, linguistics
  • End of project summary report: to come
 
Alain Berry, Olivier Robin, Pierre Grandjean (Université de Sherbrooke) & Philippe-Aubert Gauthier (UQAM)
  • Project Title: Evaluation of three acoustic manikins for binaural recording and research/popularization purposes
  • Abstract: Acoustic manikins can be used for outreach (hearing health prevention) or for research purposes (psychoacoustics). The cost of these manikins can range from few hundred to several tens of thousand dollars, but it is not clear whether this price difference is translated into measurement quality. This project aims at evaluating three acoustic manikins especially in a binaural recording context (a very low-cost full-body manikin, a low-cost acoustic head and a high-end torso). Recordings will be held under controlled conditions at Groupe d'acoustique (UdeS) as well as with musicians at École de musique (UdeS), and streamed online in science popularization videos.
  • Keywords: Psychoacoustics, sound perception, binaural recording
  • End of project summary report: Berry-Robin-Grandjean-Gauthier Agile Seed Report 2020-21 Round 2

2019-2020

Round 1 (April 2019)

Eric Lewis & Ian Gold (McGill)

  • Project title: "It ain't over till it's over"--Theory of Mind, Social Intelligence and Improvising Machines
  • Abstract: It has proven very difficult to create an improvising machine system that can tell when a collective improvisation is ending. We will test our hypothesis that humans employ theory of mind in determining when an improvisation is ending, and that this involves social intelligence and multi-modal inputs. This project will both suggest further research into theory of mind and musical performance, and the design of improvising machine systems. Our pilot project will examine whether or not visual clues of the sort characteristic of theory of mind are at play when humans determine that an improvisation is ending.
  • Keywords: philosophy, cognitive science, music cognition, improvisational studies, new instrument/machine systems
  • End of project summary report: Lewis-Gold: Agile Seed funding report 2019-20
  

Round 2 (October 2019)

Alain Berry, Olivier Robin, Olivier Valentin, Abdelghani Benghanem (Université de Sherbrooke) & Catherine Guastavino (McGill)

  • Project title: Crowdsourcing listening tests? Evaluating the validity of using a polling station in a science exhibition
  • Abstract: The relevance of using polling stations as a tool for crowdsourcing perceptive evaluations of sounds and involving the general public into this process is under consideration. Data concerning different sounds are currently being gathered using a station installed in a travelling exhibition. Over 5000 opinions were already collected and coherent trends are observed in a preliminary analysis between field or laboratory data. The project aims at (1) analyzing the whole dataset, (2) using this proof-of-concept in a grant application and (3) including sounds from other research areas in a similar setup to be installed in a fixed exhibition (2020-2021).
  • Keywords: acoustics, psychoacoustics, listening test, crowdsourcing, sound environment
  • End of project summary report: Berry-Robin-Valentin-Benghanem-Guastavino: Agile Seed funding report 2019-20
 

Tiago Falk, Raymundo Cassini (INRS-EMT), Bruno Afonso (Insight Data Science) & Ilona Posner (Toronto University)

  • Project title: Real-time measurement of the meditative effectiveness of Argentine Tango
  • Abstract: Argentine Tango has been shown to help psychological and physical health by reducing perceived levels of depression and stress, similar and at times better than meditation. This meditative state has been reported by experienced dancers while dancing, but has yet to be quantified in real-time. With the emergence of mobile electroencephalography (EEG) devices and recent innovations in EEG artifact removal algorithms, however, this quantification may now be possible. In this pilot project, we aim to validate the potential recording of usable EEG data from dancers, prior to proposing a large-scale study to better understand the meditative effectiveness of Argentine Tango.
  • Keywords: meditation, dance, neuroimaging, EEG, Argentine tango
  • End of project summary report: Falk-Cassani-Posner-Afonso: Agile Seed funding report 2019-20
 

Ichiro Fujinaga, Sylvain Margot & Yaolong Ju (McGill)

  • Project title: Digitizing and translating figured bass into chord labels for Bach chorales in symbolic formats
  • Abstract: Figured bass is an under-researched topic for Bach chorales because (1) no existing symbolic dataset with figured bass is available, and (2) no research has studied the relationship between figured bass and chord labels. The project will first digitize all figured bass found in critical editions, and then develop a heuristic algorithm to translate figured bass into chord labels, which will offer new contrapuntal and harmonic insights on Bach chorales. This project is highly interdisciplinary, where Prof. Ichiro Fujinaga (music technology) will supervise Yaolong Ju (artificial intelligence) and Sylvain Margot (music theory) to ensure the success of this project.
  • Keywords: music technology, artificial intelligence, music theory, musicology
  • End of project summary report: Fujinaga-Ju-Margot: Agile Seed funding report 2019-20
 

Jason Noble (McGill) & Juan Sebastian Delgado (Foundation Share the Warmth)

  • Project title: Reimagining Davidovsky's "Synchronisms" in the 21st Century
  • Abstract: We will create a companion piece for Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronism No.3 for solo cello and fixed media (1964; Pulitzer Prize, 1971), drawing on Davidovsky’s compositional gestures and textures but utilizing more recent technologies to create timbral affinities between the cello and electronics. In January 2020, we will meet in NYC with Fred Sherry, American cellist and composer who closely collaborated with Davidovsky, to gain deeper insight into Davidovsky’s ideas. We will premiere our piece alongside Synchronism No.3 at a live@CIRMMT concert in 2020. This concert will be a memorial to Davidovsky’s passing in 2019, and his legacy as a composer.
  • Keywords: technology, performance, research-creation, electronics 
  • End of project summary report: Noble-Delgado: Agile Seed funding report 2019-20

2018-2019

Round 1

Annelies Bockstael (U. de Montréal) & Catherine Guastavino (McGill)

  • Project title: Musicians and hearing protection: learning by doing?
  • Abstract: This project proposes a paradigm shift in hearing conservation for classical musicians by focusing on music performance with personal protectors. By combining audiology and music, this project will study experimentally how hearing protectors alter music performance (acoustically, error rate, self-report), and how performance can be restored by targeted training and feedback. Funding will be used to train a student in pilot data collection, preparing from an FRQSC Audace application in 2019.
  • Keywords: Audiology: Communication Sciences; Acoustics: Music performance, technological music analyses
  • End of project summary report: Bockstael-Guastavino: Agile Seed funding report 2018-19
 

Ilja Frissen, Ky Grace Brooks, Fili Gibbons (McGill)

  • Project title: Portable Studio Workshops as Learning Environment
  • Abstract: Over the last two decades, the landscape of audio production has shifted from professional studios towards a portable, "do-it-yourself" (DIY) ethic. Despite these changes, literature indicates that information behaviours such as peer learning remain critical for the professional success of engineers. To assess whether these requirements are well met by the new model, and whether they present invisible boundaries to accessibility across lines of culture, gender and sexuality, we propose to develop and pilot an audio workshop using a portable recording system as a learning environment. This initial study will inform a more comprehensive project planned for Spring 2019.
  • Keywords: Information studies, sound recording, music education
  • End of project summary report: Frisson-Brooks-Gibbon: Agile Seed funding report 2018-19
 
Alexandre Lehmann (McGill) & Jérémie Voix (ÉTS)
  • Project title: Preventing hearing loss in the young generation: A smart t-shirt proposal
  • Abstract: Hearing loss is increasing dramatically, WHO estimates 1.1 billion young people worldwide at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Despite clear evidence from research and the existence of safe-hearing guidelines, the problem is worsening.  We will tackle this issue by combining the latest advances in engineering and cognitive auditory research, to design an innovative body-worn sound dosimeter device that appeals to the young, raises awareness and provides a simple assessment of noise exposure.  It will be systematically evaluated in real-life settings, such as concerts, to assess its efficiency in promoting safe listening practices amongst youths.
  • Keywords: Biomedical engineering, psycho-acoustics, audiology, cognitive auditory neuroscience, population health
  • End of project summary report: Lehmann-Voix: Agile Seed funding report 2018-19
 
Jérémie Voix, Rachel Bouserhal (ÉTS), Stephanie Blain-Moraes & Florian Grond (McGill)
  • Project title: The Sensitive Ear:  a hearable accommodating hypersensitivity to sound
  • Abstract: We live in an increasingly noisy environment, which poses challenges for people with sensory sensitivities like misophonia. Hearing protection devices alleviate this issue by attenuating ambiant sounds. However, they do not distinguish between sounds causing distress and those carrying information. The sensitive ear is a wearable in-ear technology designed to address this challenge by detecting and filtering known sounds causing distress. Additionally, it will capture physiological signals  from inside the ear correlated with distress to learn new triggers unique to each user. It will ultimately regulate sound exposure as a function of distress and comfort, benefiting specific and general user groups. 
  • Keywords: Audio engineering, ethnography, physical therapy 
  • End of project summary report: Bouserhal-Grond-Voix-BlainMoraes: Agile Seed funding report 2018-19