Think Tanks



02/12/2016 - 2pm

Godfried-Willem Raes - Robots always get better, people don't.

Godfried-Willem Raes is the director of the now highly endangered Logos Foundation, an institute where artistic and technological research converge with experimental musics. In this lecture he will present an overview of his research activity, including both failures and achievements. The driving forces behind his commitment to contribute to the development of new tools for musical expression will be revealed. Two main areas will be covered: the search for tools to capture and classify human expressive gesture at the one hand, and the realisation of a very large collection of musical robots, making up the Logos robot orchestra. Godfried-Willem Raes studied musicology and philosophy at the Ghent State University as well as piano, clarinet, percussion and composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Gent. He has also published a great number of critical essays and articles in specialized publications. In 1982 he received the Louis Paul Boon Award for the social engagement in his artistic work. In 1988 he became a professor of music composition at the Ghent Royal Conservatory. In 1997 he also became a professor at the Orpheus Higher Institute for Music, a commitment he held, up to 2009. In 1990 he designed and constructed a tetrahedron-shaped concert-hall for the Logos Foundation in Ghent, a project for which it received the Tech-Art prize 1990. Next to his reputation as a composer, he is also a well known expert in computer technology, robotics and interactive electronic art. He holds a doctors degree from Ghent State University on the basis of his dissertation on the technology of virtual instruments of his design and invention. He is the author of an extensive real time algorithmic music composition programming language: <GMT> running on the Wintel platform. He was a full time research and composition professor at the Ghent University Association, School of Arts, until his retirement in 2014, but he is still active in the research group of systematic musicology at the Ghent University. He is currently also an Associate Researcher at the Orpheus Research Centre in Music. (OrCIM).

Françoise Vanhecke - Inhaling Singing, a new extended vocal technique

This work aims at a better understanding of ‘Extended Vocal Techniques (EVT)’ in a general context and Inhaling Singing (IST) in particular. Within the broad field of EVT Inhaling (IST), as a new artistic art form, is the core of this work.
In the world of vocal practice new developments and expansions are continuous challenges. In a very broad context, art can be considered as a dynamic process whereby expanding frontiers and exploration of new forms of artistic expression are key factors to achieve these challenging goals. Throughout this research it has been become clear that, besides the exploration of the artistic potential of IST, there was a need to gain scientific insight and knowledge in order to describe this novel vocal technique and to open perspectives for further research in the field. A notation system was developed in order to enable composers to integrate IST in new compositions.
The outcome of this empirical research forms a solid base in order to develop specific pedagogical methods in combination with artistic realizations.


18/11/2016 - 2pm

Prof. dr. Johan Wagemans, On the balance between order and complexity in aesthetics

Even in the early days, before Fechner started experimental psychoaesthetics, ideas about beauty emphasized perfection (e.g., right proportions, harmonious arrangement of parts) but also contained elements of imperfection. For Leibniz, for instance, perfection was harmony or unity within variety. In the 20th century, a lot of experimental work was aimed at testing specific quantitative expressions of this notion of balance between order and complexity, with Birkhoff (1932) proposing a divisive relationship (O : C) and Eysenck (1942) proposing a multiplicative relationship (O x C). In this talk, I will not try to settle on one expression or the other. Instead, I will sketch its broad appeal and usefulness in capturing key factors determining aesthetic appeal and preferences. These factors will be related to general characteristics of information processing in the brain. Specifically, I will try to embed the empirical work on visual pleasure in the framework of predictive coding and its fundamental principles of the brain as a complex system that is continuously generating and testing predictions. In order to explain this view, I will rely on some examples of interesting visual art works (both classic and contemporary) as well as some fascinating visual phenomena that attract wide interest (e.g., on the internet).

 10/11/2016 - 1.30pm

drs. Alessandro Dell'Anna, Interpersonal entrainment in joint tapping with TMS

Up to which point is music an intersubjective phenomenon? Applying some insight of the enactive approach to social cognition, and collecting data and methods from entrainment studies and social neuroscience, I set up an experiment to compare musicians and non musicians in a simple joint tapping task, in order to explore the influence of a partner in a proto-musical action. Negative mean asynchrony and cortico-spinal activation will be measured (by means of TMS) to see if and how they are modulated by the presence and by the position of the partner (be it egocentric or allocentric).

drs. Tim Duerinck, Music instruments from new materials and their scientific evaluation In his presentation

Tim Duerinck will present his PhD research and we will think about suiting research methods. He will give a short introduction about the different stages of his research: choosing suitable materials, the making of prototypes and how he will analyse them in co-operation with Material Sciences (Ugent). However, the analysis of a music instrument is incomplete without incorporating musicians and/or public. How do we conduct scientific research on music instruments when a double-blind methode is not possible? Tim introduces some suggestions, which will be discussed about in a brainstorm. Together, we will look for a suitable method for analysing music instruments with musicians and/or public.


Lukas Pairon, SIMM and the Social Impact of Making Music
The Ghent-based international research platform SIMM involves a partnership between four different departments of the University (UGent) and University College (HoGent) of Ghent (Belgium), in an international collaboration with universities from Europe and far beyond.
The initiative has come out of the Conflict Research Group(CRG, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, UGent), and the platform is also welcoming three other departments/research groups: CCVS (Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, UGent), Department of Social Work (HoGent) and the School of Arts (HoGent).
Research of SIMM will address the social impact of learning and playing music, as studied from the perspective of participants in different types of social-artistic programmes. Qualitative case studies and long-term ethnographical research will be given priority, so that in time, we will arrive at a better understanding of the possible influence that playing music has upon individuals who are striving to improve their social circumstances. In this, SIMM has an emphatic ambition though: not to justify music as art, or to validate it from the point of view of its potential social usefulness.


Prof. Dr. Ir. Leon Van Noorden, Recent statistical analyses applied to synchronisation data of young children tapping to songs in little groups

Dr. Pieter-Jan Maes, Update of experiment on auditory-motor synchronization + thoughts about analyses and social music

Federica BressanMarie Curie meets IPEM: An overview of the upcoming project on installation art


Dr. Micheline Lesaffre, Dr. Frank Desmet, & Matthieu Ghilain, Music and Movement Synchronization in people with dementia

Micheline will present results from a study on synchronization in cooperation with the group of cognitive neuroscience (Lille University) at the University Hospital in Reims (2015). This study examined synchronization (1) in the presence of a musical beat versus a familiar song of the same tempo (84bpm), (2) under auditory, visual and audiovisual conditions, and (3) in live versus recording conditions.
Frank will talk about the Matlab toolbox he developed for analysis of this data.
Matthieu will present the setup and goals of a new study we are going to do in May in Kluisbergen. This is an adapted/improved version based on the results of the study in Reims.


Allessandro Dell'Anna, Interpersonal entrainment. Insights into the intersubjective basis of musicality

Adaptive timing is one of the basic skills a musician is required to have in a musical ensemble (Philip-Silver & Keller 2012). Although it might appear to be a very simple task, joint finger tapping may offer some insight into this ability. Moreover, it might suggest a mean by which sensorimotor synchronization (and then rhythm) enhance relationships among humans (Hove & Risen 2009). After reviewing some of the experiments done in the last decade (Repp & Su 2013), I will briefly present an outline of a possible joint finger tapping experiment that could further clarify the issue of the intersubjective basis of musicality.


Jan Stupacher, Sensorimotor interactions in music perception

When we 'tune in' to a musical pulse and move our body in time with the beat we are rhythmically entrained. In my dissertation project at the Department of Psychology in Graz, Austria, I want to construct a comprehensive cognitive framework of entrainment that takes into account acoustic, neural, and social aspects of sensorimotor synchronization. The research goal is to link temporal aspects and spatial patterns of neural activations to direct measures of sensorimotor synchronization (e.g., finger tapping), audio features, and interpersonal affiliation.


Esther Coorevits, The role of gesture in coordinated interpersonal timing

Apart from their obvious role in sound production, musicians may use body movements in joint performances to temporally coordinate their actions. Accordingly, we hypothesize that observing a musician’s body movements may facilitate prediction and anticipation of when tone onsets are about to occur, leading to improved interpersonal timing synchronization. To test this hypothesis, we will instruct duos of musicians to tap out a melody at a specific target tempo, while manipulating finger and arm movement constraints (`Performing style’)


Dr. Maarten Grachten, A brief introduction to deep learning, and some musical applications

The area of machine learning, in which a computer is taught to perform a task by example, has witnessed nothing short of a revolution the past few years, with the revival of artificial neural networks. This new learning paradigm, often referred to as "deep learning", has led to unprecedented results in a variety of domains. In this talk I will briefly explain what deep learning is, and showcase some music-related applications of it that have been developed in the context of the EU-funded research project "Learning to Create", such as automatic recognition of composers by their musical style, and expressive music performance.