The goal with this study was to make a interactive musical system for kids and adolescents with concentration difficulties. The study lead to a interactive prototype, that among other things, could play and mix music from different genres that was made from a focus group and observational study with kids from a special school in Denmark. I have kept the information on the project on this page to a minimum to respect the partners of the project and our NDA.
This first example is the six main genres examples from the algorithm. The music would play as loops and every genre example would include five tracks: drums, bass, lead, instrument 1 and instrument 2. The music was made in collaboration with Asger Steenholdt, who co-produced the tracks and played the guitar and piano.
The different tracks would then be mixed together by my algorithm, creating generative music, starting from a fast tempo (130 BPM) decreasing to a slow tempo (90 BPM) or vice versa to either increase increase or decrease arousal in the listener. The following example consists of three genres in 130 BPM, 110 BPM and 90 BPM chosen randomly by the algorithm.
Summary of the thesis
This preliminary case study on how to make an interactive system for kids and adolescents with concentration difficulties, explores how to use a user-centered design approach to develop the interactive system in close collaboration with the end-user. User-centered design includes the user into the design process, thus one of the goals was to figure out how to do that. The users and participants were a group of kids from a special school for children with special education needs and two of their teachers who served as potential secondary users and gatekeepers for the kids. We chose to use qualitative methods for the research, as they go well together with user-centered design and tests. The collaboration consisted of monthly meetings in a focus group and a single day with a workshop in the focus group. We would bring a new iteration of the system for every meeting in the focus group, as per user-centered design practices. During the meetings we would discuss music, design, interaction and technology and the new iterations of the system would be based on the wishes and needs of the users. One goal was also to make the children participate in the process as much as possible, to give something back to the children and to grow a rewarding relationship, where we would learn from each other. We also used participatory design practices, with the final goal that the users would become co-designers. As a result of the workshop, we came to the conclusion, that more work needs to be done to make the participants co-designers. The children were very interested in music, so I argue that one way to include them in the design process, is to do time consuming work, like producing the music from scratch in collaboration with the kids or use already made easy-to-use musical programs. The role of the designer is also examined and how the designer can use their expertise to create algorithms and music from the discoveries made during the focus groups and workshops with heuristic techniques on several design levels. The process resulted in a generative musical system, but with still more work to be done to make it interactive. A future study should focus more on the interaction and the bottom up strategy approach, where components of the system are made separately, as to allow more tests to be made and to get results in a short period of time. It would furthermore allow the designer to do more problem solving from one iteration to the next. The project officially ended with a pitch for officials from the local municipality and a psychiatric hospital in Region Hovedstaden, where the children who participated in the project, presented the idea behind the project and what it had done for them.