New Centre of Excellence: RITMO

The new centre directors: Anne Danielsen (years 1–5) and Alexander Refsum Jensenius (years 6-10).

I am happy to announce that the Research Council of Norway has awarded funding to establish RITMO –  Centre of Excellence for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion. The centre is a collaboration between Departments of Musicology, Psychology and Informatics at University of Oslo.

Project summary

Rhythm is omnipresent in human life, as we walk, talk, dance and play; as we tell stories about our past; and as we predict the future. Rhythm is also central to human biology, from the microoscillations of our nervous system to our heartbeats, breathing patterns and longer chronobiological cycles (or biorhythms). As such, it is a key aspect of human action and perception that is in complex interplay with the various cultural, biological and mechanical rhythms of the world.

The vision behind RITMO is to reveal the basic cognitive mechanism(s) underlying human rhythm, using music, motion and audiovisual media as empirical points of departure. No other interdisciplinary research environment has focused solely on rhythm and its direct and indirect impacts before. Given the fundamental role of rhythm in human life, such an endeavour is long overdue.

RITMO will undertake research on rhythm in human action and perception, and on the aesthetic and cultural ‘texts’ that such processes elicit. This venture will benefit from the combined perspectives of the humanities, cognitive neuroscience, social sciences and informatics. Now is the right time to establish such a centre, because we can finally explore some of the larger questions of the humanities via state-of-the-art technologies for motion capture, neuroimaging, pupillometry and robotics. Such a research strategy is as novel as it is essential to any engagement with the impact of human rhythm. RITMO will generate groundbreaking knowledge about the structuring and understanding of the temporal dimensions of human life. As such, it will change how we view human cognition and supply a cornerstone for the future exploitation of rhythm in applications for well-being and rehabilitation.

New SMC paper: Optical or Inertial? Evaluation of Two Motion Capture Systems for Studies of Dancing to Electronic Dance Music

2015-08-12_18-04-34My colleague Ragnhild Torvanger Solberg and I presented a paper at the Sound and Music Computing conference in Hamburg last week called: “Optical or Inertial? Evaluation of Two Motion Capture Systems for Studies of Dancing to Electronic Dance Music“.

This is a methodological paper, trying to summarize our experiences with using our Qualisys motion capture system for group dance studies. We have two other papers in the pipeline that describes the actual data from the experiments in question. The happy story in the SMC paper is that it is, indeed, possible to get good tracking with multiple people, although it requires quite some fine tuning of the system.

Download: Fulltext (PDF)

Abstract: What type of motion capture system is best suited for studying dancing to electronic dance music? The paper discusses positive and negative sides of using camera-based and sensor-based motion tracking systems for group studies of dancers. This is exemplified through experiments with a Qualisys infrared motion capture system being used alongside a set of small inertial trackers from Axivity and regular video recordings. The conclusion is that it is possible to fine-tune an infrared tracking system to work satisfactory for group studies of complex body motion in a “club-like” environment. For ecological studies in a real club setting, however, inertial tracking is the most scalable and flexible solution.

Citation: Solberg, R. T., & Jensenius, Alexander Refsum, A. R. (2016). Optical or Inertial? Evaluation of Two Motion Capture Systems for Studies of Dancing to Electronic Dance Music. In Proceedings of the Sound and Music Computing Conference (pp. 469–474). Hamburg.

BibTeX
@inproceedings{solberg_optical_2016,
address = {Hamburg},
title = {Optical or {Inertial}? {Evaluation} of {Two} {Motion} {Capture} {Systems} for {Studies} of {Dancing} to {Electronic} {Dance} {Music}},
isbn = {978-3-00-053700-4},
abstract = {What type of motion capture system is best suited for studying dancing to electronic dance music? The paper discusses positive and negative sides of using camera-based and sensor-based motion tracking systems for group studies of dancers. This is exemplified through experiments with a Qualisys infrared motion capture system being used alongside a set of small inertial trackers from Axivity and regular video recordings. The conclusion is that it is possible to fine-tune an infrared tracking system to work satisfactory for group studies of complex body motion in a “club-like” environment. For ecological studies in a real club setting, however, inertial tracking is the most scalable and flexible solution.},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the {Sound} and {Music} {Computing} {Conference}},
author = {Solberg, Ragnhild Torvanger and Jensenius, Alexander Refsum, Alexander Refsum},
year = {2016},
pages = {469--474},

New department video

As I have mentioned previously, life has been quite hectic over the last year, becoming Head of Department at the same time as getting my second daughter. So my research activities have slowed down considerably, and also the activity on this blog.

When it comes to blogging, I have focused on building up my Head of Department blog (in Norwegian), which I use to comment on things happening in the Department as well as relevant (university) political issues. My longterm plan, though, is also to write some posts about being Head of Department on this English-language blog.

Today I would like to point to our new department video, targeted at recruiting new students:

The video is made by video journalist Camilla Smaadal, who is also responsible for a set of video presentations of our faculty. Most of these are in Norwegian, but we are planning to add English subtitles through YouTube.

The new video is aiming at giving students an impression of all the cool things happening in our Department. There are a lot of new music education programs popping up everywhere these days, so we realise that we need to be more active in promoting the qualities of our university education. This video is one little step towards this goal.

Head of Department!

musikkleder-blogg2Today I start as Head of Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo!

One of the things I promised in my application was to set up a Head of Department blog, and I am happy to announce that the first entry was posted this morning.

I am thrilled and excited to get the opportunity to lead the institution that I have both studied and worked at for more than a decade. The department is the smallest in the Faculty of Humanities in Oslo, but it is the largest musicology department within the Nordic countries, and fairly large also in an international context.

Being Head of Department will, obviously, mean that my daily life will be quite different from the privileged postdoctoral research life I have led over the last years. I still aim at continuing some research activities, and to continue posting on this blog from time to time.

Survey on eMusicology

Many music researchers, myself included, are dependent on technology in and for their work. In fact, I think many of the most interesting research findings in musicology in recent years are based on the new potential from various types of technology, e.g. tools coming from the music information retrieval (MIR) community.

I am therefore puzzled when I meet music researchers that are not interested in, or even outspokenly negative, to the possibilities of new technologies for music research. Therefore I am happy to see that the Purcell Plus project has been set up to carry out a more systematic study on the impact of technology on music research. They write:

Musicology is changing. Advances in technology are opening up new areas of musical practice to potential scrutiny such as analysis of performance through recorded music. Application of software to analytical tasks dealing with music is making possible a kind of objectivity which hasn’t been possible in previous music scholarship. Current theoretical advances are even formalising the notion of musical and musicological practice and may potentially complement human agents in future models of practice. The social Web and scientific methods are bringing about changes in scholarly practice and publication with collaborative research becoming more commonplace in humanities disciplines.

To get some more information on the topic, they have set up an online survey as a pilot study. I am very interested in seeing the results of this study, so if you are involved in music research please help them by filling out the survey.