Thursday, February 22, 2024

Making technology to make music

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Join Professor Andrew McPherson, online or in person, for his Imperial Inaugural.

We have limited in-person spaces available so please ensure you register in advance via Eventbrite.

Abstract

The histories of music and engineering are inextricably linked. Music has long been a motivator for technological development, and every technology in turn leaves its aesthetic fingerprints on music. Today, meeting the expectations of musicians continues to stretch the limits of digital systems and human designers alike. Meanwhile, amidst a rapidly changing technical landscape of embedded computing and artificial intelligence, digital instrument design is taking on urgent new social and ethical dimensions.

Andrew McPherson is Professor in Design Engineering and Music at Imperial College London whose research involves designing digital instruments and their constituent technologies and studying the interaction between musicians and their instruments. In his inaugural lecture, he will recount how a serendipitous project of building and composing for an unusual electromagnetic piano led to a life-altering journey spanning engineering, computer science, the arts and humanities across two continents and four institutions, all in search of a deeper understanding of why and how we make technology to make music.

Biography

Andrew McPherson is Professor and Chair in Design Engineering and Music in the Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London. Trained as an electronic engineer (SB and MEng MIT 2005) and composer (SB MIT 2004, PhD UPenn 2009), he leads the Augmented Instruments Laboratory, an interdisciplinary research team creating new music computing technologies and exploring what art and design can tell us about the cultural implications of engineering decisions.

Andrew is the Bela/RAEng Research Chair in Embedded Music Computing (2021-26) and the principal investigator of an ERC/UKRI Consolidator Grant (2023-28), having previously held fellowships from EPSRC (2016-21) and the US Computing Research Association (2009-11). Prior to joining Imperial in 2023, he was Professor of Musical Interaction in the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) at Queen Mary University of London. His instruments are widely used by composers and performers, including dozens of new pieces with hundreds of performances, several albums, an opera, a film score, and two successful crowdfunding launches. He is the co-founder of Bela.io, a startup creating high-performance open-source embedded computing systems for makers and artists.

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