Science/Sound Sound/Science 

1. Go-Pro perspective of Improvising Ensemble- Ensemble

2. Postcards in Attention - Notations

Postcards in Attention is a set of notations designed to provoke cognitive demand by removing or focusing basic components in task mastery. The performer wears electrodermal sensors, placed to measure psychophysiological changes during the interaction with the notational tasks. The work looks to understand how improvisation, memory, vision, and movement are effected by the role of the notate-er, often called the composer. Questioning the demand notations have on bodily, cognitive, and eventual performative decisions of players. Bioelectric equipment provided by Mindfield Biosystems.



Understanding the notational basis to common improvisational practices. A set of varied notations was devised by Maria mimicking the styles in which she has encountered most frequently when working with improvising ensembles. She then adapted and expanded these prompts with the advice from Claire on the variation in cognitive demands such forms of notations may produce. The work entitled Postcards in Attention (For skin and sound) became a score like material which put into experiment the physiological properties of notational cognitive demand. The work was premiered by Serge Vuille at Huddersifeld University on the 21stof January 2019. 

Skin-conductive measurements where used in this study, hooked to the mindfield skin conductance app. 


Difficult or impossible to sync data accurately with current software, therefore the score, data, and video are roughly synced. 

Physiological data analysis can not be accurately analysed without an exact sync with audio or video files. 

It would be interesting to continue to try the notations with varying musicians, as the instrumentation is left open. The information gathered from many performers, would of course be more inclusive of any reliable finding beyond speculation of the commonalities of physiological responses to notation. 

As the Mindfield system is still in a beta phase, data was not accurately collected for the performance, below is a video of the data with the rehearsal video. 

3. Taupe Ensemble -Ensemble

Applying the questions in Postcards in Attention without notational intervention. This study is of the psychophysiological measurements of performers from the Newcastle based improvisation ensemble Tapue.

Tapue is a trio comprising-

Adam Stapleford: Drums

Mike Parr Burman: Guitar

Jamie Stockbridge: Saxophone


The group  “is built of influences drawing from free jazz and math metal to hip-hop grooves and post-bop, with a healthy dollop of skronk, all navigated down a path that seeks to blur the line between carefully constructed rhythmic compositions and explosive group improvisation” (​


Heart-rate bluetooth sensor was

worn by one member of the ensemble, 

in this case the guitarist, Mike. 

Notes were taken during the 

performance linking audience perspective 

thoughts, and were

synced with time-line. These can be

accessed here-​-------------------------------------------->


Difficult or impossible to sync data accurately

with current software, therefore the score,

data, and video are roughly


Further options for studies in a similar style, would be to follow up 

with the performers in an interview, or feedback style report. At the moment

since the data is being gathered out of interest in practising the collection

methodology, the band was not approached for any further comment. If 

further work would be done with this specific ensemble, it would be interesting

to have more information about sections that are composed and those left 

free. It would be interesting to see what kind of effects these changes in style

had on the physiological response.  


















4. ICEBERG Collective- Ensemble


5. "watching paint dry" by Brice Catherin and Maria Donohue- Notations

6. Prosodic Improvisations and Stroop 


Cognitive effects of improvisational music. This study conducted by Claire Ruckert, looked to take improvisational recordings made by Maria Donohue which varied in levels of tonality and frequency band, a full list below-



Two octaves-harmonic tonality (predictable rhythms anddynamics)


Four octaves-harmonic tonality (less predictable rhythms and dynamics)


Two octaves-non-tonal harmonies (predictable rhythms and dynamics)


Four octaves-non-tonal harmonies (less predictable rhythms and dynamics) 


Nature of study-


“I will be investigating certain properties of background music, and if these

properties could cause music to be more or less distracting in a visual Stroop task.

The first property which I will be investigating is tonality, that is whether a piece

of music fits into the Western system of musical organisation. Atonal music

does not operate within this system of tonality. Research has indicated that

tonal background music is more distracting than atonal music. I aim to see

if this will result in decreased performance in a selective attention task, like

the Stroop task. We will also be looking at prosodic contour as another

potential dis tractor. Prosodic contour is a linguistic term, and when used

in relation to language it refers to the temp,, stress, and pitch range of

speech. Literature suggests that a higher prosodic contour in speech is

more distracting than a low prosodic contour. As tempo stress, and pitch

range are also properties of music I am seeking to determine if this effect

also exists in music.” (Ruckert, 2019)

To try out the method of this approach, please see the troop test below.

This is accompanied by instructions, and the play button in the right hand corner

plays an example of one of the audio files possibly given to participants of the study.


7. Voice over Experiments - Ensemble