Instrumental-Agency and The Co-Production of Sound: From South Asian Instruments to Interactive Systems


For this research project, we looked at sympathetic resonance as seen in South Asian instruments as a source of complex performer-instrument interaction. In particular, we compared this rich tradition to the various types of human/machine interactions that arise in digital instruments endowed with computational agency. In reflecting on the spectrum of agency that exists between the extremes of instrumental performance and machine partnership, we arrived at two concepts to help frame our study of complex interactions in acoustic instruments: the co-production of sound and material agency. As a case study, we asked musicians of these South Asian instruments questions about their perceived relationship with their sympathetic strings. Building upon this, we designed and created an interactive system that models the phenomenon of performing with sympathetic strings. We then asked musicians to interact with this new system and answer questions based on this experience. The results of these sessions were examined both to uncover any similarities between the two sets of interviews, and to situate this entangled performer-instrument interaction with respect to markers of perceived control, influence, co-creation, and agency.


Omar Shabbar and Doug Van Nort,”Instrumental Agency and the Co-Production of Sound: From South Asian Instruments to Interactive Systems”, in Proc. of the International Audio Mostly Conference (AM), 2023.