Donohue+: Developing performer-specific electronic improvisatory accompaniment for instrumental improvisation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electronic systems designed to improvise with a live instrumental performer are a constant mediation of musical language and artificial decision-making. Often these systems are designed to elicit a reaction in a very broad way, relying on segmenting and playing back audio material according to a fixed or mobile set of rules or analysis. As a result, such systems can produce an outcome that sounds generic across different improvisers, or restrict meaningful electroacoustic improvisation to those performers with a matching capacity for designing improvisatory electroacoustic processing. This article documents the development of an improvisatory electroacoustic instrument for pianist Maria Donohue as a collaborative process for music-making. The Donohue+ program is a bespoke electroacoustic improvisatory system designed to augment the performance capabilities of Maria, enabling her to achieve new possibilities in live performance. Through the process of development, Maria's performative style, within the broader context of free improvisation, was analysed and used to design an interactive electronic system. The end result of this process is a meaningful augmentation of the piano in accordance with Maria's creative practice, differing significantly from other improvising electroacoustic instruments she has previously experimented with. Through the process of development, Donohue+ identifies a practice for instrument design that engages not only with a performer's musical materials but also with a broader free improvisation aesthetic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalOrganised Sound
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Donohue+: Developing performer-specific electronic improvisatory accompaniment for instrumental improvisation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this