Project's name EyeHarp Project
Area of research

Music technology, digital musical interfaces, accessibility

Responsible department Department of Information and Communications Technologies
Project director Rafael RamírezZacharias Vamvakousis
Cost estimate

12.000 €

It has been shown that playing and learning a musical instrument provides benefits for acquiring non-musical skills. For example, musicians have a better ability to hear speech in noisy environments, show a reduction in age-related auditory impairment, increased verbal and auditory memory, and increased auditory attention. The learning of musical instruments is associated with neuro-structural changes in both children and adults. Motor brain regions are enlarged in musicians compared to non-musicians. Volumes of gray matter tend to be greater in musicians than in non-musicians for the motor, auditory, and visio-spatial regions of the brain. In addition, the density of gray matter is higher in Broca's (language) area for musicians. People with severe motor disabilities are unable to play traditional musical instruments and therefore it is impossible for them to access the benefits that musical education entails. 

The EyeHarp s a digital musical instrument that is designed to allow you to play music with eye or head movements. This instrument allows people with severe motor disabilities to learn, play and compose music. Currently we have a prototype of the EyeHarp that is used by people with disabilities in different countries of the world. The realization of this project would allow to continue developing EyeHarp and to make its implementation more robust, in this way allowing even more people to use it.

 

Objectives

The main objective of the project is to provide access to people with motor disabilities to learn, play and compose music through digital musical interfaces, in particular through EyeHarp. The EyeHarp is an instrument that can be played  through the user's eyes.

Specific objectives:

  • Finish developing the EyeHarp, porting it to different operating systems and making it more robust.
  • Extend evaluation tests to people with different degrees of disability
  • Continue to broadcast (currently has already appeared on television, radio, and press)
  • Extend the use of EyeHarp in music schools. It is currently used as an instrument of musical education in the School of Music and Arts of Santa Perpetua de Mogoda, but we would like to extend its use to other schools.
  • Organize a public concert to which all donors will be invited. The concert will consist of musical pieces performed by people with disabilities accompanied by professional musicians. The press will be invited with the aim of achieving the widest possible dissemination.

 

 

Advantages of the solution

  1. Acquisition by the participants with motor disabilities of an autonomous capacity for playing music, as well as the interest in it.
  2. Integration of these users with motor disabilities in stable formations to promote integration and socialization.
  3. Visibility of the possibilities generated by the new technologies and promotion of these for their implementation in the country's music schools. This project has already appeared in the press, see for example: http://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20170509/422421899192/un-instrumento-digital-permite-a-personas-con-discapacidad-tocar-el-piano-con-la-mirada.html , or http://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20170509/422417669771/escuela-musica-de-santa-perpetua-incorpora-un-instrumento-para-discapacitados.html
  4. Sensitization within the world of music about people with motor disabilities and their right to participate in musical creation.
  5. Empowerment of people with motor disabilities through creativity and participation in culture.

 

Activities and technical description

  • Development and implementation of Eyeharp in different operating systems.
  • Call for composers and people with motor disabilities who want to participate in the project. The composers will be chosen by merit and artistic experience, and the users will be chosen through the specialized centers.
  • Training and educational activities: Music and technology training for users with motor disabilities to master the innovative technologies designed by UPF that provide access to playing and composing music.
  • Seminar for composers chosen to introduce them to the new technologies for which they will have to compose. These sessions will be divided into a collective and others in a tutorial format where the ideas and proposals of the composers will be oriented. In the meantime they may also be present in the training of users with motor disabilities. The venue of this activity will be the Communication Campus of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and the Catalan School of Music (ESMUC), Barcelona.
  • Activities of artistic creation: Introduction of users with motor disabilities in ESMUC stable formations and regular tests until the final concert. In these sessions the composers will give indications and, if necessary, they will adapt and modify the pieces.
  • Activity of public exposure of creative work: Final concert of the project where the results of the participating formations will be shown and the possibilities offered by the new technologies will be made visible. The concert will be in a central Barcelona room adapted for a concert and with accessibility for people with reduced mobility.

 

Expected results and impact (beneficiaries)

This is an innovative project as it opens a new path of artistic expression and participation to the culture that people with motor disabilities had not been able to access before. It is a step towards equality of opportunities and towards the integration of these people through the musical formations. In other countries we find examples of this type of musical democratization as in England with the project Paramusical Ensemble.

Based on the existing Eye-tracker technology developed by the MTG team, we want to go beyond applying artistic and creative use. The EyeHarp, developed by Zacharias Vamvakousis, is a musical interface that is controlled with the gaze. It is specially designed for people with severe motor impairment. It is an open technology and at the end of the project will be downloaded for free as the project's intention is to break down barriers and give access to music. It uses the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

DIRECT BENEFICIARIES

  • The most important recipients are people with motor disabilities, with limitations in accessing the act of playing music. To contact this profile we will need to cooperate with specialized centers in the treatment of motor disabilities. They will participate in the project through interfaces adapted to their needs that will allow them to learn and interpret music.

INDIRECT BENEFICIARIES

  • In addition there will also be selected composers through a call and musicians of the ESMUC. The benefits of participation of people with disabilities will also impact their families.


 

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