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Mobile music production: Creativity in a dichotomus interface paradigm

Order, S. (2014) Mobile music production: Creativity in a dichotomus interface paradigm. In: Annual Conference. Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2014, 9 - 11 July 2014, Swinburne University, Victoria



The most recent trend in music production is a move away from the work-orientated portable computer as a production tool to the tablet computer. Some have suggested that the emergence of the iPad tablet in the music technology landscape will democratise music making in the same way that the emergence of digital cameras made photography and filmmaking more available (Tough, 2009).This paper emerged from my own creative practice of music production on an iPad tablet whilst travelling, and at various international destinations. In an auto-ethnographic fashion, I felt that the quality of my creative outcomes was significantly enhanced by this mobile music production practice. What factors are at play? Tablets are relatively cheap compared to laptops; they are smaller and still viewed as a novelty. Further, notions of mobility and portability are more culturally attached to tablets than laptops (Goodwin, 2012). How then is the relatively new mobility of music production impacting creativity? This paper proposes there are two significant human interface paradigms at play that impact user creativity when producing music on a mobile tablet device. The first is the human-computer interface (HCI) of the music technology app itself. The culture of app development is moving the technology forward quickly, driving new approaches to interface design and creative engagement with new tablet music technology. Some work on tablet HCI and creativity has been done previously (Order, 2014). It is the second, and less obvious human-environmental interface (HEI), where little research on creativity has been done (Amabile, 1996) where this paper focuses its effort. Music production is now potentially a mobile practice, moving easily between geographic locations which yield a variety of visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and olfactory environmental cues. Such cues can function as cognitive input stimuli. This echoes the seminal work on creativity by Mel Rhodes (Rhodes, 1961) who popularised the term press to describe the multi-factorial impact of environment on human creativity. This human interface with the environment also speaks to definitions of synaesthesia by Simon Baron-Cohen and John Harrison (Baron-Cohen and Harrison, 1997), where “the stimulation of one sensory modality automatically triggers a perception in a second modality” (1). The potential for creative outcomes or provoking creativity via synaesthesia are apparent (Order, 2000). This paper examines approaches to mobile music production from these and other associated fields. Specifically, this paper focuses on the human-environmental interface, arguing that increased connectivity via mobility is a significant contributor to expanded musical creativity.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
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