Enabling Musical Expression

In the spring of 2005, we brought the Hyperscore composition software to Tewksbury Hopsital, a long-term chronic care facility where residents have illnesses as diverse as schizophrenia, cerebral palsy, bipolar disorder, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and other diseases. In the past, we had shown that hyperscore was an amazing tool for allowing anybody to dive in and compose music. At Tewksbury, this work took on new shape, plugging in directly as an intervention, where patients made remarkable gains socially, and physically, as the became composers over the course of three months.

The Enabling Musical Expression project starts where the Hyperscore in the Hospital work left off. What if in addition to composing, even a severely physically limited individual could express their compositions fully, as a soloist, in real-time with the fullness of expression and nuance required of such a performance? Working closely with artist, and resident of Tewksbury, Dan Ellsey, we have a built the Enabling Music Expression (EME) to do just that.

The impact of this work can be felt on three fronts. First and foremost, Dan brings a remarkable composition and performance. Secondly, our research provides a compelling model on how to successfully design the hardware and software required to capture very small, but concerted movements to the affect of gestures and other real time expressive controls. Lastly, our work shows the accomplishments clinically, and physically in a pathological individual, who through the drive to perform in this creative endeavor, can accomplish movement that has implications for the scope of his communication inside our project, and in his everyday life.