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The Vocal Chorder: Empowering opera singers with a large interactive instrument
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. (MID)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2142-9493
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. (Mobile Life at KTH)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0002-4825
2014 (English)In: CHI '14 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2014, 1001-1010 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

With The Vocal Chorder, a large interactive instrument to create accompaniment, opera singers can get more power over the performance. The device allows performers to interactively accompany themselves through pushing, leaning on and bending steel wires. The design was guided by the unique needs of the solo-singer, explored through autobiographical design and material explorations, some on stage, and later tested by other singers. We discuss how designing for opera and for the stage requires extraordinary durability and how opera performances can change with a bodilyoriented instrument such as The Vocal Chorder. Through a designerly exploration, we arrived at a device that offered (1) a tool for singers to take control over the rhythmical pace and overall artistic and aesthetic outcome of their performances, (2) an enriched sense of embodiment between their voice and the overall performance; and (3) a means to empower opera singers on stage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2014. 1001-1010 p.
Keyword [en]
Appropriation, Autobiographical design, Embodiment, Empowerment, Interactive instruments, Opera
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-146694DOI: 10.1145/2556288.2557050ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84900422227ISBN: 978-145032473-1OAI: diva2:725305
32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014; Toronto, ON; Canada; 26 April 2014 through 1 May 2014

QC 20140616. QC 20160226

Available from: 2014-06-16 Created: 2014-06-13 Last updated: 2016-02-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Extending Opera - Artist-led Explorations in Operatic Practice through Interactivity and Electronics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Extending Opera - Artist-led Explorations in Operatic Practice through Interactivity and Electronics
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How can we re-empower opera singers, extending their control over accompaniment and vocal expressivity? To answer this question, I have opened a novel design space, Extending Opera, consisting of interactive artist–operated tools to be used on-stage. The research has its methodological groundings in Research through Design (RtD) and Research through the Arts (RttA). This particular method is coined "research-throughthe- art-form-opera" – as I have worked within the realms and traditions of opera, probing its boundaries by designing, researching and creating through its own artistic toolbox.

Originally conceived for personal use, the artifacts were later used by other singers and incorporated in performances of opera in small and large scale. By composing and designing for the requirements in operatic productions, high demands on robustness were explored in and through custom-built interfaces.

The work resulted in ten novel artifacts and performances exploring the expressivity of these tools. Extending Opera is guided by and probed through three questions:

1. How can the design and creation of interactive, artist-operated instruments be informed by deep musical knowledge and be probed by the particular conditions surrounding an operatic production?

2. What impact can interactive, artist-operated instruments have on the opera singers themselves and on their vocal technique?

3. How can interactive, artist-operated instruments empower opera singers, thus challenging contemporary power hierarchies – thereby reconnecting to the explorative practice in opera's early days?

My knowledge contribution has surfaced through artistic practice and consists of the exemplars and the artworks, as well as three abstractions – one procedure, one requirement and one experiential quality.

Sensory Digital Intonation highlights how the fine-tuning of technologies and real-time interactivity is incorporated in a feed-back loop with artistic concerns and creativity.

Performative Stamina ("The Premiere-Factor") highlights how the traditional procedures leading up to a premiere in opera influence the demands on robustness and reliability within the components and the overall design of the novel artifacts.

Vocal Embodiment is an experiential quality that describes how the interactive artifacts change the singing itself.

In the conclusion, Artistic Re–Empowerment is discussed, proposing that power structures in opera have been probed through the use of the novel artist-operated interactive instruments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. 136 p.
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:19
National Category
Media and Communication Technology
Research subject
Media Technology
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-159001 (URN)978-91-7595-401-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-01-29, F2, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)

QC 20150119

Available from: 2015-01-19 Created: 2015-01-19 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved

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Unander-Scharin, CarlHöök, Kristina
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