Creating Music with Human-Computer Interactions

by David Lemberg on September 4, 2009

in Computer Science, Mathematics, Robotics and AI

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Dr. Elaine Chew is an Assistant Professor in the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, where she is also a key investigator at the Integrated Media Systems Center. She received a B.A.S. in mathematical and computational sciences, and music at Stanford University, and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Operations Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Between Cambridge and Los Angeles, she spent a year at Lehigh University as a Visiting Assistant Professor.

Dr. Chew’s thesis, completed under the supervision of Jeanne Bamberger, with OR co-advisor Georgia Perakis, proposed a mathematical model for tonality, the system of relations that serves as a framework for our hearing of tonal music, and computational methods for abstracting tonal structures. Her Spiral Array model and associated algorithms introduced an “interior point” approach to the problem of key finding in computational music cognition. A year after graduation, she was recruited by the University of Southern California’s Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering to forge a link between the department and the Integrated Media Systems Center.

At USC, Dr. Chew’s foray into mathematical modeling of music flourished and expanded to include collaborative projects in music information retrieval, distributed immersive performance, and musical expression synthesis. She also developed a course on computational methods for music perception and cognition.

Apart from creating computer models to analyze and manipulate music, Dr. Chew also performs frequently as an articulate proponent of post-tonal music. Her performances can be heard on NPR and WGBH’s Art of the States program.

In 2004, Dr. Chew was honored with an NSF Career award for her proposal on performer-centered approaches to computer-assisted music making, in which she stated that her purpose was “to establish engineering music research as a core academic discipline” and to “promote the use of computational research in music processing by humans as a basis for creating and improving human-computer interaction in computer music systems”.

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