ERC funding

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the DigiScore project, grant agreement No 101002086

Sunday, November 7, 2021

General Description

This blog will document Digital Syzygies, which is a Case Study of the Digital Scores research project, funded by the European Research Council. The project is led by Professor Craig Vear of De Montfort University, Leicester, in partnership with: Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China; Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; and UC Santa Barbara,  California, USA.

The Digital Scores project began on October 1st, 2021 and will run for five years. Digital Syzygies is the first in what will become a series of five Case Studies, each lasting 6 months and each based in a different centre. The Case Studies involve a series of semi-structured monthly interviews with practitioners of digital scores, augmented by theories of musical representation of self and others in joint action (e.g. Keller et al 2016), social cognition of interaction through music performance (e.g. D'Ausilio et al 2015), Empathetic Involvement (e.g. Carr et al (2003)), Embodied Music Cognition (e.g. Leman 2008), and Player Involvement (e.g. Calleja (2011)). The primary theoretical source is the book Digital Scores by Craig Vear (Routledge 2019).

Digital Syzygies will run from February to August 2022 and will be led by Professor Andrew Hugill. It will address the central challenge: how may digital scores stimulate new relationships between musicians and open up the possibilities of novel creative experiences? Hugill will work with three other musicians to create several new digital scores and associated performances. The project will use and adapt a new computational technology - the Audio Orchestrator - created by BBC R&D.

A primary aim of the project will be to focus on the accessibility of digital scores for d/Deaf, hard-of-hearing and neurodivergent artists and musicians. The digital scores will be created by co-located performers linked together in a network and will focus on solutions for organising, sharing and distributing compositional materials for the enhancement of collective musicking. An additional aspect to the project is the extent to which double empathy may be observed in the relationships between autistic participants and those between autistic and non-autistic participants (see Milton 2012).

The scores will be created and performed using an iterative loop process of design, development, testing, and refining. This will be supported by a critical reflection process comprising discussions and interviews addressing questions such as what does it feel like to perform with digital scores streamed across a network of co-located performers? and what are the differences in musicianship when networked digital scores are 1) autonomous, e.g. the digital score is generated at each site and its operation is independent of the others; 2) shared, e.g. each site shares the same score and this might be distributed across the network from a common source; or 3) hive, e.g. each site creates its own interpretation of the digital score and shares its interpretative parameters amongst the network of machines? The finished digital scores will be working prototypes rather than fully finished commercial compositions. However, they will be performed to a 'live' audience where appropriate.


Calleja, G., (2011). In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation, USA, MIT Press Carr et al (2004)
Carr L, Iacoboni M, Dubeau MC, Mazziotta JC, Lenzi GL 'Neural mechanisms of empathy in humans: a relay from neural systems for imitation to limbic areas'. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 29; 100(9):5497-502.
D'Ausilio, A., Novembre, G., Fadiga, L., & Keller, P. E. (2015). What can music tell us about social interaction? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(3), 111-114
Keller, P. E., Novembre, G., & Loehr, J. (2016). 'Musical ensemble performance: Representing self, other and joint action outcomes'. In S. S. Obhi & E. S. Cross (Eds.), Shared representations: Sensorimotor foundations of social life (pp. 280–310). Cambridge University Press.
Leman, M. (2008). Embodied music cognition and mediation technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Milton, D. (2012) On the Ontological Status of Autism: the ‘Double Empathy Problem’. Disability and Society.  Vol. 27(6): 883-887.
Vear, C. (2019) Digital Scores: Creativity, Musicianship and Innovation. New York: Routledge

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