All the Noises: Hijacking Listening Machines for Performative Research

John Bowers, Owen Green

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Research into machine listening has intensified in recent years creating a variety of techniques for recognising musical features suitable, for example, in musicological analysis or commercial application in song recognition. Within NIME, several projects exist seeking to make these techniques useful in real-time music making. However, we debate whether the functionally-oriented approaches inherited from engineering domains that much machine listening research manifests is fully suited to the exploratory, divergent, boundary-stretching, uncertainty-seeking, playful and irreverent orientations of many artists. To explore this, we engaged in a concerted collaborative design exercise in which many different listening algorithms were implemented and presented with input which challenged their customary range of application and the implicit norms of musicality which research can take for granted. An immersive 3D spatialised multichannel environment was created in which the algorithms could be explored in a hybrid installation/performance/lecture form of research presentation. The paper closes with reflections on the creative value of ‘hijacking’ formal approaches into deviant contexts, the typically undocumented practical know-how required to make algorithms work, the productivity of a playfully irreverent relationship between engineering and artistic approaches to NIME, and a sketch of a sonocybernetic aesthetics for our work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression
PublisherVirginia Tech
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781949373998
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
EventNew Interfaces For Musical Expression - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, United States
Duration: 3 Jun 20186 Jun 2018 (Link to Conference Website )

Publication series

NameNIME Proceeings
ISSN (Print)2220-4792
ISSN (Electronic)2220-4806


ConferenceNew Interfaces For Musical Expression
Abbreviated titleNIME 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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