Vocal Vibrations: Expressive Performance for Body-Mind Wellbeing

The voice and the body are instruments that everyone possesses. They are incredibly individual, infinitely expressive, and intimately linked to one's own physical form. As such, they can affect us on both emotional and anatomical levels. Building on our recent work on capturing operatic performances for Death and the Powers, we are now creating the next generation of tools for analyzing and enhancing expressive vocal and physical performance. Using sophisticated voice, breath, and movement analysis techniques, we seek to develop compelling artistic experiences that encourage the use of the body and singing voice in ways that are physiologically and emotionally beneficial.

In collaboration with Le Laboratoire in Paris and The Dalai Lama Center at MIT, we are exploring the hypothesis that the singing voice can influence mental and physical health through physicochemical phenomena and in ways consistent with contemplative practices. Additionally, many people are not comfortable “singing” or do not feel that they can use their voice to participate in a rich musical experience. To address this, we are developing techniques to engage the public in the regular practice of thoughtful singing and vocalizing, both as an individual experience and as part of a community.

As part of this initiative, we launched the first Vocal Vibrations public installation in March 2014. We sought to create a space where people could come and explore their voices, both through a public space for careful listening and through a solo interactive vocal experience that used multiple sensory modalities to help the user explore their own voice and the vibrations created by their voice. My role in this project was as a primary interaction designer of this installation, defining a meaningful set of expressive vocal parameters and shaping the resulting behavior of the system. The solo interactive portion of the installation analyzes and recognizes expressive parameters of a user's voice and uses that information to shape the user's experience, primarily through vibration in a handheld device that we called the Orb. This device was created in collaboration with Bold Design.

More information at the Vocal Vibrations homepage .

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