Research

DIY music computing for social interaction, education and performance.

Vision

I remember discovering by myself (it was not taught in school) that I could compose my own music using traditional and electric instruments. We shared compositions with and learned to compose together with colleagues. Software tools for sound and music came soon later. We also had to learn the new tools by ourselves. In the following years, a range of sound and music technologies have emerged. These technologies allow us for multiple ways of approaching sound and music, and learning computing on the way, in a DIY fashion. Anything is possible, but some guidance and experience from expert practitioners is always acknowledged by newcomers. We need places for communities of practice in which interdisciplinarity, creativity, collaboration, and personal development are possible. The main goal is to be able to collaboratively build and share our own tools, inventions, and processes in suitable and diverse environments for developing new technologies, music, and experiences for a better future.

Mission

Technical skills are important for dealing with the complexities of our world, yet creative thinking is also relevant for thinking differently and seeing problems from alternative perspectives. Music computing and the DIY culture allow us for an interdisciplinary perspective to bringing the arts into STEM education (STEAM), collaborative learning, and interdisciplinary computational thinking. My mission is to bring more democratic, diverse and playful experiences for creating and learning music computing using novel technologies, along with the principles of learning to learn within technology-enhanced collaborative practices that allow for inventing and practice-based learning.

Research interests

I am interested in the synergies between HCI and Sound and Music Computing (SMC): ways of exploiting music technology and computer music concepts using cutting-edge computational tools and physical computing that can ultimately inform STEAM education, HCI research and SMC research.

My research interests include:

  • SMC topics: algorithmic composition, computer-supported collaborative music, computer music, design of digital musical instruments (DMIs) for music performance, live coding, musical tabletops, new interfaces for musical expression (NIME) for music performance, participatory mobile music, tangible music.
  • HCI topics: computational thinking, computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW), embodiment, hands-on collaborative learning, Internet of Things, mobile interaction, multi-touch and tangible interaction, physical computing, STEAM education, tangible computing, wearables.
  • HCI design: experience design, interaction design, participatory design.
  • HCI methods: evaluation methods, in-the-wild methods, qualitative analysis, multimodality, video analysis.

Involvement in research groups

Professional activities

Committee member / Conference chair:

  • Co-founder and committee member of the just recently started (May-June 2016) initiative of Women in Music Technology (tentative title) at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (GTCMT) to increase the representation of women in the GTCMT program (Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US).
  • Music/Artworks chair for the Web Audio Conference 2016 (Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US).
  • Session chair for the International Computer Music Association 2011 conference in Huddersfield, UK (session: Laptop/Coding/NI).
  • Committee member of the 2011 CRC PhD Student Conference at the Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Reviewer:

  • Conferences:
    • ACM Designing Interactive Systems (2012, 2016).
    • ACM New Interfaces for Musical Expression (2011–2016).
    • ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (2015-2016).
    • ACM Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (2012–2016).
    • IEEE Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (2013).
    • International Conference on Live Interfaces (2016).
    • ISSTA International Festival and Conference on Sound in the Arts, Science and Technology (2016).
    • Web Audio Conference (2016).
  • Journals:
    • Interacting with Computers – Oxford Journals.
    • International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS) – Elsevier.

Jury member:

  • Jury member of the MOOG Hackathon 2016 at Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, Atlanta, GA, US.

Publications

Publish or perish, quality first.

My Google Scholar profile

Books

  • Xambó, A. (2004). Digital Design Tools (Spanish). Anaya, Madrid.
  • Book Chapters

    • Xambó, A. (2016). Embodied music interaction: creative design synergies between music performance and HCI. In Price, S. and Broadhurst, S. eds. Digital Bodies. Palgrave Macmillan, London. Under review.
    • Xambó, A., Laney, R., Dobbyn, C. and Jordà, S. (2013). Video analysis for evaluating music interaction: musical tabletops. In Holland, S., Wilkie, K., Mulholland, P. and Seago, A. eds. Music and Human-Computer Interaction. Springer, London. pp. 241–258.

    Journal Articles

    Peer-Reviewed Conference Papers

    Theses

    Position Papers, Workshop Papers

    Oral Presentations, Demos, Workshops

    • Xambó, A. (2016, July 2). Challenges and new directions for collaborative live coding in the classroom. Oral presentation presented at the ICLI 2016 Conference, Brighton, UK.
    • Roma, G., Xambó, A., Freeman, J. (2016, July 2). Do the Buzzer Shake. Poster session presented at the ICLI 2016 Conference, Brighton, UK.
    • Xambó, A., Ikkache, L., Jackson, D. (2016, May 5). Women in Sound. Oral presentation and open discussion held at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (GTCMT) Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US.
    • Dobson, L. and Xambó, A. (2016, April 22). Anna Xambó and Liz Dobson in conversation. Keynote session in Women in Sound Women on Sound 2016: Educating girls in sound, Lancaster, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2016, February 25). Algorithmic composition: my personal journey. Oral presentation presented as a guest speaker in Jason Freeman's Computer Music Composition class, Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, Atlanta, GA, US.
    • Xambó, A. (2016, January 26). EarSketch: computational music remixing for all. Oral presentation presented as a guest speaker in Barbara Ericson's Educational Technology classroom, College of Computing, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US.
    • Xambó, A. (2015, September 3). Musical tabletops: challenges and opportunities for computer-supported collaborative music and HCI. Oral presentation presented at the College of Architecture Research Forum, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US.
    • Xambó, A. (2015, August 27). Musical tabletops: challenges and opportunities for computer-supported collaborative music and HCI. Oral presentation presented at the GVU Center Brown Bag Seminar Series, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US. [video]
    • Xambó, A. (2015, August 24). Musical tabletops: challenges and opportunities for computer-supported collaborative music and HCI. Oral presentation presented at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (GTCMT) Seminar, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US.
    • Xambó, A. (2015, August 14). EarSketch: a STEAM approach to broadening participation in computer science principles. Lightning talk presented at the RESPECT 2015 Conference, Charlotte, NC.
    • Xambó, A. (2014, July 1). SoundXY4: Supporting tabletop collaboration and awareness with ambisonics spatialisation. Oral presentation presented at the NIME 2014 Conference, London.
    • Xambó, A. (2014, April 30). Let's jam the Reactable: Peer learning during musical improvisation with a tabletop tangible interface. Oral presentation presented at the CHI 2014 Conference, Toronto, ON.
    • Xambó, A. (2014, April 29). Towards an integrated methodological framework for understanding embodiment in HCI. Poster session presented at the CHI 2014 Conference, Toronto, ON. [video]
    • Xambó, A. (2014, April 9). Let's jam the Reactable: Peer learning during musical improvisation with a tabletop tangible interface. Oral presentation presented at the London Knowledge Lab, London.
    • Xambó, A. (2013, November 11). Tabletop tangible interfaces for music performance and implications for tabletop research. Oral presentation presented at the School of Computing, University of Kent, Kent, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2013, June 2). Tabletop groupware for music performance: Design and evaluation. Oral presentation presented at the CRC PhD Student Conference 2013, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2012, June 12). Collaboration on interactive tabletops for music performance: An exploratory study. Oral presentation presented at the CRC PhD Student Conference 2012, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A., Roma, G., & Bovermann, T. (2012, April 15). Tangible musical interfaces with SuperCollider. Workshop presented at the SuperCollider Symposium 2012, Goldsmiths, University of London, London.
    • Xambó, A. (2012, January 10). Tangible Additive Sound Synthesis (TASS). Demonstration presented at the Welcome to the French Embassy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2011, August 2). Multi-touch interaction principles for collaborative real-time music activities: towards a pattern language. Oral presentation presented at the ICMC '11, Huddersfield, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2011, July 4). Collaborative music interaction on tabletops: An HCI approach?. Oral presentation presented at the BCS HCI 2011 Workshop on When Words Fail: What can Music Interaction tell us about HCI?, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2011, June 17). Designing and evaluating interactive systems: Musical tabletops for collective music performance. Poster session presented at the CRC PhD Student Conference 2011, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2011, June 16). Tabletop groupware for music performance: Design and evaluation. Oral presentation presented at the CRC PhD Student Conference 2011, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2011, May 17). Tabletop groupware for music performance: Design and evaluation. Oral presentation presented at the 2011 Doctoral Workshops Conference, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2011, March 8). Designing and evaluating interactive systems: Musical tabletops for collective music performance. Poster session presented at The Open University Poster Competition 2011, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2010, July 23). Issues and techniques for collaborative music making on multi-touch surfaces. Oral presentation presented at the SMC '10, Barcelona, Spain.
    • Xambó, A. (2010, June 8). Issues and techniques for collaborative music making on multi-touch surfaces. Oral presentation presented at the CRC PhD Student Conference 2010, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Xambó, A. (2010, May). Issues and techniques for collaborative music making on multi-touch surfaces. Oral presentation presented at the Music Research Day, Music Research Studio (The Open University), Milton Keynes, UK.
    • Alsina, A., Ferrete, J., Roma, G. and Xambó, A. (2008, October 31). Freesound, Sons de Barcelona y Freesound Radio: Proyectos colaborativos alrededor del sonido. Oral presentation presented at the IV Cicle de Converses d'Antropologia Sonora, Institució Milá i Fontanals (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.
    • Alsina, A., Ferrete, J., Roma, G. and Xambó, A. (2008). Freesound.org, Freesound Radio i Sons de Barcelona. Oral presentation presented at Facultat de Belles Arts (Faculty of Fine Arts), Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.
    • Alsina, A., de Jong, B., Loscos, A., Roma, G. and Xambó, A. (2008, September 27). Influencia de la tecnología en la evolución de la música y la industria. Oral presentation presented at NetAudio, CCCB, Barcelona, Spain. [video]
    • Roma, G. and Xambó, A. (2007, September 20). A sound editor with a tangible interface. Oral presentation presented at the SCSymposium(2007), DCM, The Hague, Netherlands.

    Music

    Above all, I love music.

    Featured piece

    Albums

    peterMann - On the Go (2013)

    On the Go is an aural report from peterMann, on a trip through unexplored territories. A collection of dense and noisy ambiances seasoned with interferences, tweets and crackles, suggesting the presence of unseen life forms. A solitary excursion for the adventurous isolationist.

    Free Download: On the Go - peterMann (2013)

    peterMann - init (2010)

    init is the first release by peterMann on Carpal Tunnel, a collection of 12 minimalist compositions of rough electronic sounds, subtle dissonances and field recordings interleaved into aggressive rhythms and dark ambiances. An hypnotic walk through industrial landscapes filled with unexpected dangers. A must for those interested in slow experimental techno.

    Free Download: Init - peterMann (2010)

    Compilations

    VVAA - Microtopies 2016 (2016)

    Microtopies 2016 is the fifth world call for sonic miniatures launched by Gracia Territori Sonor to configure the yearly special edition of our weekly radio broadcasting Música i Geografia (FM Barcelona, Ràdio Gràcia). 46 artists and bands from 12 countries have participated in Microtopies 2016. The received miniatures have not been subjected to a selection process and they have been included following the strict order of arrival. When you’ll listen to them you will be able to travel through this utopian geography in the order preconfigured by chance, but you can create your own favourite selections as well.

    Listen to: track 39: peterMann (Atlanta) - Go wild y'all

    VVAA - Microtopies 2015 (2015)

    Microtopies 2015: 56 miniatures de música i geografia is the fourth world call of sonic miniatures launched by Gràcia Territori Sonor to configure an annual special edition of our weekly radio broadcasting program Música i Geografia (FM Barcelona, Ràdio Pica and Ràdio Gràcia). 56 artists and groups from 13 countries have participated in Microtopies 2015. The miniatures received haven't been submitted to a selection process and have been included in strict order of arrival. When you hear them you'll be able to travel this utopic geography in the order that chance has preconfigured.

    Listen to: track 50: peterMann (London) - ldnsktch01

    VVAA - Electronic music from Catalonia (2010)

    Electronic Music from Catalonia 2010 is loaded with bright colours, with a heightened sense of modernist synthetics, and with the warmth and openness to cosmopolitan influences which is such a crucial aspect of Barcelona's, and Catalunya's, way of life. It's a reminder that electronic music is not necessarily some enormous paradigm shift, but a subtle, digital continuation of dance and ritual forms that have persisted and survived for centuries.

    Listen to: track 4: peterMann - init11

    Performances

    Broadcasting

    Concerts Co-organization

    Code

    Demo or die.

    AlgoNoise

    AlgoNoise is an algorithmic DJ that produces algorithmic playlists for the dance floor. The generated playlist is a mix of EDM and electronic music genres including Dub Step, Techno, Breakbeat, Drum and Bass, Glitch, Chiptune and above all Noise and Concrete music. It combines sound samples from FreeSound.org and sounds generated by synthesis using SuperCollider.


    Granular sampler for Flux Night 2015

    Granular sampler for Flux Night 2015 is a collaborative project created by Jason Freeman, Gerard Roma and Anna Xambó especially for Jennifer Wen Ma's Flux Night 2015 public art project, Bending the Arc. The software is written in SuperCollider and is designed to listen to a voice, analyze that voice, then send what it learns to a graphics software so the voice can be animated in real-time. The Granular Sampler also records what it hears, and is able to recombine the voices it records and compose a musical mashup that can then be played back organized by pitch.

    SoundXY4: The Art of Noise (2014)

    SoundXY4 is an ambisonics system for music performance with a tangible interface. The project "SoundXY4: The Art of Noise" is a celebration of 100 years of Russolo's "The Art of Noise". The system includes 6 white cubes, which each represents one of the 6 sound categories in the "Art of Noise". There are also black cubes, which represent filters that can modify the sound of the nearest white cube.

    SuperCollider was used for the visual feedback as well as for the audio engine and program logic. The object tracking was processed using ReacTIVision, based on fiducial markers. The SETO Quark was used for TUIO protocol management in SuperCollider. The sound samples selected are from Freesound.org.

    The angle of the white cube on the table surface defines the position of the sound source in the room using ambisonics. The audio of the video is a stereo representation of the ambisonics system, yet the system works best using at least 4 speakers. So, there is loss of data in the stereo image but it gives an idea of the effect.

    SoundXY demo (2012)

    SoundXY approaches real-time individual auditory feedback through stereo spatialization in a tangible tabletop system for music performance. Its primary purpose is to solve a known problem in multi-user interactive tabletops: how real-time feedback can improve participants' awareness of who is working on what task during parallel interactions. The audio engine and program logic was built with SuperCollider using the SETO Quark. A collection of varied sounds was represented by tangible objects. The object tracking was processed using ReacTIVision, based on fiducial markers. The sounds ranged from basic sounds (e.g. noise waves, sine waves) to sound samples from Freesound.org. Stereo spatialization was applied to allow listeners to localise the sounds depending on the position of the tangibles on the tabletop surface.

    Hacks

    Hacks and snacks.

    Gangsta Headbang @ Music Hack Day Barcelona 2015

    Gangsta Headbang is a demo of a wearable presented at the Barcelona Music Hack Day 2015. A fedora hat triggers chords when you follow the rhythm with your head. Inspired by rude boy fashion in Jamaican music and augmented with wearable technology. We are using Adafruit Flora, Flora accelerometer/compass sensor LSM303, neopixels, conductive thread, and a fedora hat.

    Creators: Gerard Roma and Anna Xambó.

    Acknowledgments: We are thankful to FabLab for advice and lending us the Flora board.

    More info: https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/music-hack-day-barcelona-2015/hacks/gangsta-headbang

    CrowDJ @ Music Hack Day Barcelona 2014

    CrowdDJ is a collaborative playlist editing for parties. This tool aims to solve the politics of djing in parties in a democratic way. CrowDJ is a web application that streams music based on the Rdio API. The playlist can be edited collaboratively: people can add songs from the Rdio catalog using their own devices. They can also vote the tracks to modify the order in which they play.

    Creators: Gerard Roma and Anna Xambó.

    Prizes: Rdio prize.

    More info: https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/music-hack-day-barcelona-2014/hacks/crowdj

    DJ Hacky @ Music Hack Day Barcelona 2013

    DJ Hacky plays loops from Freesound.org. The interface is a half-martian antropomorphic toy. We connected its guts to a raspberry pi to give it a new live. In the raspberry pi a supercollider audio engine plays the loops, controlled by the buttons in the toy. We used the unofficial API that powers FLOOP to get loops that can be played in sync.

    Creators: Gerard Roma and Anna Xambó.

    More info: https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/music-hack-day-barcelona-13/hacks/dj-hacky

    Soundscape Turntablism @ Music Hack Day Barcelona 2012

    Soundscape Turntablism music hack is a follow up of SoundscapeDJ, presented at the Hack Camp (Music Tech Fest, London 2012). In this occasion we built a tiny homemade turntable using a DCmotor. The motor is controlled via Sense board, which allows to map any sensors to the rotation speed. You can use Reactivision fiducials as "records", in this case, sounds from Freesound.org. The rotation rates of the fiducials affects the audio rate of the recordings. The tools used are Freesound 2 API, SuperCollider (Freesound2 Quark, SETO Quark), ReacTIVision, and a Sense board.

    Creators: Gerard Roma and Anna Xambó.

    Special thanks to: Robert Seaton, Ian Cameron, and the Electronics and Audio Visual Production Department (Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology, Open University).

    Prizes: Reactable and Zvooq prizes.

    More info: http://wiki.musichackday.org/index.php?title=Soundscape_Turntablism

    SoundscapeDJ @ The Music Tech Fest London 2012

    SoundscapeDJ is a real-time Soundscape DJing program aiming to play environmental sounds from Freesound.org with a tangible interface. It is possible to retrieve your soundscapes and manipulate them by changing their rate and applying filters. The tools used are Freesound 2 API, SuperCollider (Freesound2 Quark, SETO Quark) and ReacTIVision.

    Creators: Gerard Roma and Anna Xambó.

    Prizes: Warp Records prize.

    More info: http://www.musictechfest.org/hackcamp/wiki/index.php?title=SoundscapeDJ

    About

    Synergies between music technology and HCI.

    I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at Center for Music Technology and Digital Media Program (Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, US) for the EarSketch project. From 2013 to 2014, I was a research fellow for the British ESRC-funded project Methodological Innovation in Digital Arts and Social Sciences (London Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK). In 2015, I completed my PhD in computer-supported collaboration on interactive tabletops for music performance at The Open University (Milton Keynes, UK). I hold a MSc degree specializing in HCI and Music Technology (M.Sc. Information, Communication and Audiovisual Media Technologies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain). My master thesis Interfaces for Sketching Musical Compositions (2008) focused on the design and evaluation of creativity-support interfaces based on tangible, mobile and pen-driven interaction. I also have studies in Video, Animation and Multimedia Design, and hold a BA and MA in Anthropology (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain). I have been working since 2000 as interaction designer, web designer and web developer with strong background on Internet technologies (check here my 2009 portfolio). I have been both employee in companies (2000-2010) and co-founder of my own studio Nodular Soft (2004-2010). I have experience programming in C, Java, PHP, and Python.

    OTHER SKILLS AND INTERESTS
    With some music theory, piano and solfege background, I have been making music for several years in a couple of Barcelona-based bands as a bass guitar player and composer. Currently I make experimental electronic music using computer software (e.g. SuperCollider, Live), applications for mobile devices and sometimes basic DIY musical instruments (e.g. noise generators). As a composer, performer and producer of experimental electronic music, I perform under different aliases (peterMann, pulso). My works are usually published through the label Carpal Tunnel, co-founded together with Gerard Roma.
    I am passionate about art exhibitions, cinema, concerts, cycling, hiking, photography, reading, swimming, tinkering, taichi, traveling and yoga. Above all, I love music!

    CITIES
    Although I have been mostly raised in Barcelona (Spain), I also lived in Boston (MA, US) for 2 years when I was very little. Lately, I have lived in Milton Keynes (UK) for 3 years, in London (UK) for 1 year, and currently I am based in Atlanta (GA, US) and Barcelona. In words of Stephen Hawking "we are all time-travellers".

    MY SOUNDS
    music > personal projects: peterMann, Anna Xambo
    music > collaborations: pulso
    music > software demos: SoundXY4, soundscapeDJ, AlgoNoise
    sound recordings > personal projects: laspaziale

    Contact

    Get in touch.

    Social networks:

    Email:


    Postal address:
    School of Music
    College of Design
    Georgia Institute of Technology
    840 McMillan Street
    Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0456 U.S.A.