Concepts for the design of accessible music technology

Joe Wright


This chapter explores the concepts and issues arising from research into the design of accessible sonic-play instruments with non-verbal autistic children/young people, and follows on from work previously presented at Innovation in Music in 2017 (Wright. 2019a). This research also draws from inclusive participatory performance practices and aims to increase the breadth of opportunities and choices young people have when interacting with sound and music. Key examples of such practices include projects such as Sound to Music (2013) and the Artism Ensemble (Bakan, 2015, 2018), where young people shape and/or compose the music made by neurodiverse groups that include neurotvpical adults. Bakan s (2015) recollections of the Artism Ensemble, perfectly encapsulate the kind of musical context these practices create, he discusses how the neurotvpical adults in the ensemble had to be:

willing to go where the children take them, which is often to places where rhythmic grooves fall apart or fail to emerge, where growing musical momentum and direction suddenly disintegrate for no apparent reason, where they are asked to play things and to play in ways that defy their "common sense' musical sensibilities, and where they must resist the urge to momentarily take charge of the group to "fix' the musical problems they encounter.

(Bakan, 2015, p. 120)

These projects could be viewed as attempts on the part of neurotvpical adults to engage with music in ways which for them may feel unintuitive, or that in some cases may even clash with their musical enculturation. They are important, as such 'bilingual' (or in these cases bicultural) efforts have been found lacking in society as a whole (Savarese and Savarese. 2010). Parallel arguments have been presented in relation to design as well. In Design Meets Disability, Pullin (2009) argues for more radical and critical design approaches in relation to disabled users, where existing designs are predominantly functional or medical in their look and feel.

For Accessible Digital Musical Interfaces (ADMIs), such functional or utilitarian approaches may not meet the aesthetic tastes of a diverse user base either. In her surveys on ADMIs, Frid highlights the diversity among users of accessible instruments, where “[i]ntra-personal differences and preferences may be very dissimilar also for persons within the same user group [my emphasis]” (2019, p. 14). This observation is used to highlight the success of highly configurable ADMIs, but this can also be seen as a call to action for designers to come up with a diverse range of new, simple instruments to match a (neuro)diverse population, and a range that has a plurality of musical tastes and needs.

The challenge of this, however, is that design can be seen as an inherently persuasive act, passing biases, intentions and assumptions on the designer's part onto the user (Redstrom, 2006). Such designs, deliberately persuasive or not, can push or pull the user, choreographing patterns of human behaviour in both positive and negative ways (Tuuri et ah, 2017). Just as Pull in (ibid) has observed medical biases in the design of prosthetics (affecting form, function, look and feel), so too could the design of commercial ADMIs be influenced by music education or therapy, possibly limiting choice for other musical contexts.

The research underpinning this chapter has looked at how ADMIs might be diversified, and at the ways that an instrument might be designed to avoid limiting the user in Artism-esque child-led sessions (Wright, 2019a, 2019b; Wright and Dooley, 2019). The themes discussed below have emerged from this research as prototype sonic-play instruments were put to use in an iterative design process, in collaboration with a group of seven young autistic participants. In light of the group's responses, these themes have potential implications for future ADMI design work, and inclusive musical practice. It is important to stress that the small scale of this study means that the findings presented here can only serve as points for reflection on the design of ADMIs and interactive music technology, and cannot offer concrete solutions or strategies for all situations. Excellent resources do exist elsewhere, however, that provide much more comprehensive design considerations (e g. Ward et al., 2017), overviews on ADMI research (see Frid, 2018, 2019), or frameworks for inclusive participatory design (e g. Benton et al., 2012).


The desire to explore ADMIs that diverge from musical ‘norms' lay at the heart of the design of the first of an ongoing series of sonic-play instruments (Wright, 2019a). Its physical design was simple: a cuboid instrument with a single button-like control surface with LED lights, producing sounds with the Bela low latency audio platform (, 2019), and an embedded speaker/amplifier (as shown in Figure 14.1). This instrument was designed with two settings: one that enabled clear, replicable control; and another which made the control slightly - but not completely - ambiguous. These congruent and semi-incongruent interaction styles might broadly support musicking and indwelling orientations of a user towards a musical instrument, the fonner being concerned with "producing (and precisely controlling) musically organized sounds", and the latter being more about interaction and exploration within a “subjective sonic world" (Tuuri et al., 2017, p. 503).

The prototype was tested in open, child-led musical sessions, which were recorded and later reviewed using methods from play research and inclusive theatre (for details, see: Wright, 2019a). The first phase of testing with this prototype found that, for the small group of participants in the research, both interaction styles could be deeply engaging, depending on the person and the context around the musical activity, affirming the argument made above for the diversification of accessible musical tools.

Drawing from the responses of the group, a second prototype system was developed that could continue to support the diverse playing styles and techniques observed up to that point, but also improve upon the original with superior build quality and additional features (also shown in Figure 14.1). The updated system retained a main cuboid form-factor, with a similar button-like sensor and an embedded speaker, synthesising sound with Bela. The main instrument w as also adapted to include an open speaker grille, in the hopes that this would allow- more intense engagement with sound, and better sound-projection. The lights that were originally placed above the instrument's sensor were moved inside the instrument, which was diffused by translucent plastic and silicone parts. In addition to this main instrument, five wireless switches were built with a similar, scaled-down appearance that could be used to change the sound and interaction style of the main unit.

The second sonic-plav system was tested using similar methods, in open play sessions where the participating young people could explore the instrument on their ow n tenns, w ith the minimum possible intervention from any accompanying adults (further details of the design and testing of prototypes can be found in: Wright, 2019b). Outlined below

Sonic-Play Instruments

Figure 14.1 Sonic-Play Instruments: Left, first prototype instrument; right, second prototype system

are key concepts and themes that emerged from participants' responses to both prototypes tested in the research. All of the children and young people mentioned below have been given pseudonyms and took part in the research in accordance with ethical guidelines and safeguarding policies at their school, and at Birmingham City University.


The term openness is used here as a catch all term to describe the relations between a designer's intentions and assumptions for an ADMIs use, and the potential an instrument has to be used in different ways (including those not imagined by the designer). The two sonic-plav prototy pes had been designed with devices such as the Skoog (Skoog Music, 2019) and BIGmack (Ablenet, 2019) in mind, both have large button or buttonlike surfaces that can be interacted with. Although a breadth of playing styles had been anticipated, the implicit assumption had been that the prototype would be used as a conventional button, a cube with its sensor facing upwards, to be operated with hands, wrists, and maybe arms. Indeed, this has been how the overwhelming majority of neurotypical people have responded to both prototypes during and since this research project. But in reality, the instrument was used by the participants in many more orientations and ways than this, with the four 'unused' faces of the prototy pes serving as additional resting points, handholds and supports.

A number of these playing styles are illustrated in Figure 14.2: Anne's pilloyv technique (Fig.2a), Ben's inverted rock-listen method (Fig.2b), Paul's knee-press technique (Fig.2c), Scott's hug technique (Fig.2d), Tom's head-squeeze technique and co-operative play (Fig.2e and 2f). All illustrate unexpected uses of the instrument during the project. Even when the instrument yvas used in the expected orientation, it yvasn't necessarily operated as expected, as Tom's foot-massage method shows (Fig.2g). With the addition of the switches in later sessions, unexpected modes of use yvere also seen in Ben's gimbal technique (using a switch as a pivot and pressure point for the instrument as shoyvn in Fig.2h) and stacking methods (Fig.2i). Even the syvitches alone gave rise to musical and non-musical games. In later sessions, Paul developed what seemed to be a musical gambling method, where he yvould bounce the syvitches face- doyvn on the floor, and then line them up to see which ones had turned on or off (Fig.2j), alloyving the main unit of the system to musically comment' on the outcome. Finally, as an excellent example of how real-yvorld use can subvert expectations or intentions in ADMI design, Steyvart - yvho perhaps yvasn't a keen 'sound seeker’ (Griffiths, 2019a) - initiated and developed a complicated pattern-matching game using the illuminated switches that came alongside the instrument. This game ended up being a source of great amusement during his sessions. While Stewart never had any trouble matching the patterns he observed, his were lengthy, precise, and fiendishly difficult to replicate.

Even with the explicit aim of making an instrument that would allow people to explore sounds, and with rich prior experiences in inclusive theatre supporting the research, the vast breadth of techniques and idiosyncratic playing styles was surprising. This reflected biases assumptions about the ways the instrument may have been used, being reminiscent of adults' experiences playing in the Artism Ensemble, as quoted above. If a more complex instrument had been designed for the project, or had a specific kind of interaction been designed for, it is probable that many of these unique practices would not have happened.

It might also be possible, however, to consider in advance how open an instrument may be. For example, the choice of sensor becomes crucial in determining openness for the techniques illustrated below in Figure 14.2. A force sensing resistor (FSR) turned out to be ideal in these situations, as it didn't discriminate against any forces applied to it, regardless of who or what was acting on it. Had a capacitive touch sensor been chosen instead - which may not have been unreasonable for a designer thinking of a button that is operated by hand - many of the above methods would not have worked as there would have been no close-proximitv skin contact for the sensor to detect (e g. Figure 14.2: b, c, d, g, h, i and j).

Appropriation of the sonic-play instruments

Figure 14.2 Appropriation of the sonic-play instruments

On the other hand, in some hypothetical situation where a pre-specified action was desired, say in music education or therapy, the use of an FSR would be a hindrance rather than a help, and the capacitive sensor would be a better, more persuasive choice. Of course, a balance can also be struck in this respect, a fine example can be seen in the Stnimmi (Harrison et al., 2019), an ADMI that is designed to be guitar-like in its use, and that is very open within this remit. Any strumming/plucking gestures on this instrument are detected by vibration sensitive piezo transducers, and this means that the instrument can also be explored in other ways that might not be conventionally guitar-like (as a harmonically tuneable drum, a sound amplifying surface, etc ).

Although the idea of persuasion through design is not new, what these responses revealed is just how strong the push/pull effects of something as simple as sensor choice can be, having knock-on effects for the un/suc- cessfiil appropriation of an ADMI, and how easily this could have been overlooked. The persuasive or manipulative effects of design choices will ultimately be context specific, with equally context-dependent outcomes for a user. An intriguing outcome of this research was that some choices made the prototype instruments more ambiguous and open, or at least presented conflicting aflfordances that encouraged players to choose how they felt an instrument should be interacted with. The open, child-led environments that are fostered in groups like the Artism Ensemble represent an emerging area where such open or ambiguous musical technologies might have the advantage of allowing young people to discover and express unique embodied relationships with music.


In addition to the choice of sensor, a key factor in the prototypes' openness lay in their designed constraints. Anne's pillow method (Figure I4.2a), the co-operative play with Tom (Figure 14.20, and Ben's gimbal method (Figure 14.2h), are but a few examples where an instrument with additional inputs like Skoog (which has button-like protrusions on five faces of its cubic form) may have become problematic. If the prototype sonic-play instruments had additional sensors added to them in this way, the chances of aligning the instrument consistently for many observed techniques would become more difficult. This is because there are more orientations of the instrument for that technique that will ‘work’ (i.e. produce sound), but that might produce a different note or sound corresponding with the action: a different sound-event. While a Skoog-style layout might make sound production easier in these observed cases, it also makes it difficult to hold the instrument without making a sound, reducing a player's capacity for silence. To enforce this point, a side-by-side comparison of the prototype and Skoog layouts with observed techniques is shown in Figure 14.3, where the fonner has fewer ‘working’ orientations, but the latter is far more complex. Again, there is no 'correct' choice to be made here that will suit all contexts. The single button layout was useful for the research outlined above, as it allowed the participating group to explore and form embodied associations between actions and sounds, which would have been confused by the possibility of triggering extra or other buttons. This comes with a higher potential for error, however, as the blank faces will clearly not produce any sound if the instrument is not oriented properly for the technique. In situations where it is preferable that a user can easily make sounds, without needing to be specific about what those sounds are. the Skoog-like layout would be much more suitable.

Another area that became important to consider during the research was on stylistic constraints, where the output of an ADMI might be restricted prior to use according to some aesthetic criteria. For situations where a young person would ideally be free to choose the ways they make music, as in my study, such constraints - which can be influenced by a designer or music provider - can be very problematic.

This became particularly evident while testing the sonic-play prototypes, where, in spite of a strong commitment to creating a musically open environment, assumptions and biases restricted the musical possibilities for one of the participants. In an early session with the second prototype, for example, Anne had discovered the white noise and sloshing water sounds that the system could make, and lay down on a beanbag with the instruments speaker grille to hear ear (as the 'pillow technique' illustration

Working" orientations of a 1-button and 5-button ADMI in teclmiques used during research sessions i

Figure 14.3 Working" orientations of a 1-button and 5-button ADMI in teclmiques used during research sessions in Fig.2a shows). This activity was a breakthrough moment of intense positive engagement with the prototypes: she spent the next few minutes giggling, smiling and laughing at the sounds as they were produced from the weight and movements of her head. At the time, it seemed important to support this new method for playing the instrument for Anne's future sessions, but there were also concerns that the sounds might be too loud in such close proximity to the open speaker grille of the prototype. The sounds were turned down a little, and high frequencies of those sounds were attenuated for the sessions that followed. In those subsequent sessions, however, Anne no longer showed any interest in the prototy pe as she had done before.

It was only by accident in a later session that it became evident that it was precisely those louder, harsher sounds that were at the heart of Anne's initial positive responses, and her interest in the sounds returned when those kinds of sounds were reintroduced later on in the project. This mistake was made in spite of the wealth of practical experience that went into the planning and delivery of the research. Once again, it illustrates how easily assumptions and biases can affect the delivery and openness of a design process, regardless of the experience and awareness of the researcher.

There may, of course, be situations where it may be appropriate for an instrument to be configured in a pre-defined way (to fit in with a particular ensemble or composition, for example). In a more open situation such as this, however, the more an ADMI can or must be configured by someone other than the actual player of that instrument, the more risk there is of this kind of misunderstanding taking place. Whether or not the actions of a music provider are well intentioned, pre-configuration of the sort described above does risk disempowering the user. Of course, this also comes hand-in-hand with the risk that a more unusual and sty listically constrained instrument could be unpleasant or uninteresting for a user. Thus, considerations of constraints, and the various ty pes of risks associated with them, need to be taken hand-in-hand w ith the environment in w hich an ADMI w ill be used. Seemingly ‘risky’ stylistic constraints, for example, may be fine in an environment w here a person feels safe, or has the option to reject an instrument. Consideration of the musical environment, however, does extend beyond the scope of this chapter.

Broadly, the responses towards the physical and stylistic constraints discussed so far have been reminiscent of previous studies w ith deliberately constrained instruments (Gurevich et ah, 2010: Zappi and McPherson, 2014). Findings of these studies show ed that highly constrained instruments elicited highly creative responses and diverse playing styles from participants: this is an area fitting for further research in relation to ADMIs.

One further aspect of constraints was very' relevant to the research: the constraints arising from designed interaction styles. That is, the way that an instrument is designed to respond to gestures, and the resulting relationship that forms between a user's gestures, expectations, and experiences. This relationship, interaction-congruence, was the focus of early research with the first prototype instrument (Wright, 2019a). As the research progressed further, however, the constraining effects of interaction styles in these instruments became yet more apparent.

The most notable example of this was seen in Ben's use of the second prototype system. In general, he continued to use the second prototype as he had done the first, by rocking the instrument upside-down, allowing it to ‘play itself' under its own weight, and occasionally intervening to make changes or tweaks to the resulting clusters of sounds. As was the case with the first prototype, this practice was aided by sound settings designed to be slightly (but not excessively) chaotic, and by the added indeterminacy introduced by ‘hidden affordances' (see Gurevich et al., 2010) in the instrument's material design that caused it to wobble back and forth. This consistency of style was contrasted with one stand out session, in which Ben discovered a technique where the instrument was played by pushing the sensor face-down onto the corner of one of the wireless switches (as shown in Fig.2h). In this moment, the instrument happened to be configured to give congruent control over a looping bell sample, and Ben spent an uncharacteristically long period of time manipulating the bell sounds using this novel technique. Although it is not possible to know how or why the interactions might have been for Ben, the two interaction styles encouraged certain ways of interacting with the instrument and constrained others: direct control in the congruent style resulted in simultaneous listening and control over the sounds, while the semi-incongment style encouraged a more indirect, play-listen-play interaction within a bed of somewhat chaotic sounds. These active and indirect approaches might be considered analogues of the musicking and indwelling stances described by Tuuri et al. (2017).

Both of these techniques were engaging for Ben, and each designed interaction style encouraged a different type of relationship with the prototype system. This shows that both approaches to sound/gesture design have value, and as with many of the features listed above, these styles could be selected for an ADMI based on the type of musical situation (open/pre-defined) an instrument will be used in. As Frid (2019) points out, the approach to sound design/sound synthesis is surprisingly lacking in ADMI literature. The ideas around interaction-congruence are just a small starting point (see: Wright 2019a, 2019b), with only a small amount of field research associated with it at the time of writing. The area of constraints arising from sound design in ADMIs, then, is also area that is rich in potential for further investigation.


Another interesting area that is underexplored, according to Frid (2018). is in ADMIs that offer multiple modes of sensory feedback. Her surveys have found that ADMIs are more likely to have unimodal feedback or bimodal feedback, and that in her view, vibrotactile feedback is underutilized in inclusive musical instruments. The copresence of auditory, vibrotactile and visual feedback in the updated sonic-plav prototypes continued to be an engaging feature in the research sessions with prototype sonic-plav instruments. This sensory coherence was probably a major draw for Scott's hugging technique (where the vibrotactile feedback of the instrument can be felt very strongly, see Fig.2d) or in later developments of Tom's head-press method (where both vibration and visual information could be intensely experienced, see Fig.2e). Ward et al. (2017, p. 218) have pointed out that while ‘the dislocation of excitation and Bonification" can be exciting for some, this kind of sensory incoherence can also cause problems for others in understanding cause-effect relationships between gestures and sounds. As well as helping to focus interaction on the instrument, then, instruments with high sensory coherence may help to make such causal relationships clearer. In spite of this, sensoriallv coherent ADMIs - where multi-modal stimuli are located alongside gestures - are relatively rare: notable exceptions being the Musii (Musii, 2015) and VESBALL (Nath and Young, 2015).

However, it was not just the coherence of sensory feedback that had noteworthy effects on the use of the prototypes in my research, but also the directionality' of this feedback. In tests with the first prototype, only Ben had spent any significant time using the instrument upside-down with the sensor on the floor, and this was lessened when the LED lights that were placed on the sensor of the instrument were turned on in later sessions. The appeal of this visual feedback served as a discouragement from techniques that oriented the lights away from view. Changes were made to the second prototype's design in the hope of supporting Ben's activities without limiting those of other participants: an open speaker grille was added at the bottom as opposed to having a speaker inside a sealed, resonant box; and the visual elements were moved inside the instrument, meaning the instrument glowed from the sides, rather than only shining on its top.

The diffusion of the visual feedback had the expected effect of not limiting Ben's inverted-rocking practice with the instrument, but there w ere unexpected side-effects of changing the second prototype's design in this way. In tests w ith the second prototype, all but one of the participants explored the instrument oriented both upside-down, as well as in a more typical position. In many cases, this was because the visual details of the speaker grille, and/or the intensity of the sound and vibrations at that point seem to have been just as interesting as the push-button was on the opposite side. It's possible that the accidental 'balancing' of these features, being oriented facing outw ard on opposite faces of the cube, provided pull-factors that encouraged interaction, but didn't push the user into a particular orientation of the instrument (as illustrated in Figure 14.4).

For cases like this, the dilfusion of stimuli, and the balancing of stimuli in opposite directions, helped to avoid any particular orientation towards the instrument being imposed on a user. The designs became more open after the changes made for the second-iteration prototy pe. But where a particular orientation is desirable, these same strategies could be employed in reverse, though care would need to be taken to ensure the instrument encourages, rather than coerces, the user into a 'correct' action.

Sensor, balance in the sonic-play prototype instruments

Figure 14.4 Sensor, balance in the sonic-play prototype instruments


The second prototype developed for the research added a small collection of wireless switches to the original design. This allowed some of the same configurability that can be seen in many commercial instruments to be available to the players in research sessions. Following on from the discussion on constraints, however, the range of sounds and interaction styles made available through these switches was far more limited than in commercial ADMIs, taking inspiration from VESBALL's accessible pullstring chord, that could switch the instrument between melodic and rhythmic modes (Nath and Young, 2015). The hope was to provide choices for configuration in an accessible user-ready format, rather than providing a wide range of options that necessitate the pre-configuration of the instrument by someone other than the intended player.

A variety of approaches were taken when testing the second prototype system with the participating group. For some, the switches were swapped out one by one, and participants were able to leam which sounds were associated with them. This was helped by additional consideration of sen- son- cues, and where those cues were located on the instrument (Wright, 2019b). In other cases, the switches introduced all at once, and were quickly understood and adopted into play with the instrument. Ben, for instance, had understood that the switches changed how the instrument behaved, and mid-way through his exploration of the sounds with his gim- bal method, he reached out to the switches, and then thought othenvise. For whatever reason, he had decided not to change the state of the instrument, and therefore left the sw itches alone.

It is clearly very- important that some accessible instruments can be precisely configured for use, and that not every young person will be able to make choices of this kind. However, the accessible choices presented by the switches might offer some users the chance to configure, or to learn to configure, an instrument for themselves. This might in turn open up opportunities for more young people to experience likes and dislikes in sound, and to take charge over the sounds used in musical play, even if the choices made are from a limited set of options as a starting point.


The above are emergent themes based on the responses to the two prototype instruments that were developed and tested during the research. As has been discussed, the application of these themes is context specific, but could have broad application. Indeed, these themes have carried forward into many recent projects, and into projects planned for the future. This chapter concludes with a few outlines of such projects, and their relation to the themes above.

Ideas around openness applied equally to two inclusive theatre productions - Sound Symphony (Independent Arts Projects, 2019) and Jamboree (Griffiths, 2019b) - which aimed to create environments where young neurodiverse audiences can interact with, and co-produce the music in performances. For Sound Symphony in particular, a lot of time was taken to balance conventional ways of making and experiencing music with less conventional sounds and sound-making objects. The use of more unconventional objects in Sound Symphony also ended up highlighting themes in this chapter, independently of the research outlined above. Sound-making props, such as a jacket made from luminescent plastic spoons (in which the visual, haptic and sonic information is all co-located on the garment), had very high sensory coherence. Portable speakers were also used throughout the show to play with the (dis) location of sounds: sometimes to allow recorded sounds to be co-located amidst the live musical elements (rather than coming from a PA system), and at other times to play with the deliberate dislocation of sounds (i.e. where an actors recorded voice projects from the loudspeaker he's holding, rather than being spoken in real time).

The deliberate dislocation of sensory feedback was also key in a recent installation developed for Binningham-based group, Ideas of Noise. The installation featured three central light-sensitive flowers and loudspeakers, surrounded by lights that visually feedback control data to the flowers. The system dislocated the visual feedback from the sensors and sounds, but encouraged interaction in the space between these interdependent sensory elements. Sounds could be manipulated through the casting of shadows onto the flowers. Although this contradicts the thinking behind many features of the prototype sonic-play instruments, the installation serves as a useful counterexample where the dislocation of actions and sounds was exciting for visitors to the sound workshop. The system encouraged exploratory movement and dance that related to the sounds, to space and to visuals. The system also offered accessible choice in the form of a large red button which re-routed the various elements of the system and changed

New sonic-play instruments for ongoing research

Figure 14.5 New sonic-play instruments for ongoing research

its sonic behaviour (a rather disruptive element that was a source of mischievous delight for some young workshop goers).

One significant area of work in relation to these themes is in subsequent research on affordable and replicable accessible sonic-play instruments, shown in Figure 14.5. At the time of writing, these instruments can be made at a fraction of the cost of the sonic-plav instruments shown above, and. once suitable instructions have been completed, should be replicable by any organization with a 3D printer, or using an inexpensive kit of printed parts. These instruments are built along very similar lines to these original sonic-play prototypes: with a similar form-factor, constrained button-like input (as a starter input device), and coherent auditory / vibrotactile feedback from an embedded speaker.

Finally, the design concerns have also fed into musical practice beyond the field of inclusive arts. Contributions to a forthcoming duo album of experimental electronic music were performed on a pseudo-modular instrument designed with a constrained set of six one-dimensional controls, and synth design that very closely mirrored that of the second prototype in my study (Onin, 2020).


This chapter has discussed some simple themes that, for the research on sonic-play instruments, were both crucial in supporting young peoples' musical play, and difficult to anticipate in advance. One over-arching theme is the openness of an ADMI. where high openness might be well suited to child-led ensembles and contexts, but less so where particular skills or actions are choreographed in advance. Constraints were large contributors to the openness of prototypes used in this research, as was the sensory balance of the second-iteration instrument. The study also reflects arguments made by Frid (2018, 2019). that sensorially coherent.

multi-modal feedback can be an asset to an ADMI, and that it may be worth giving more consideration to the role of sound synthesis in ADMI research. Finally, accessible choices may strike a balance between the high degree of configurability found in commercial ADMIs, and highly constrained instruments, which may be more limited in their broad appeal. Such choices could also play an important role in allowing users to make aesthetic choices for their own music. These themes have continued to be relevant in my subsequent work as a researcher, maker, and musician, and are not limited to inclusive musical contexts. Most importantly, the applications of these concepts are highly context specific; the 'right' choices with regard to openness, constraints, sensory coherence and choice may differ depending on the person, group, time, context, and countless other factors. Crucially, this chapter does not seek to impart 'correct' design choices that will work for all cases, but instead, it aims to illustrate that these are ideas best explored in collaboration and conversation with the people and the environment in which a musical design will be used.


The research that underpins this chapter would not have been possible without the contributions, and collaborative efforts of the staff and students in a participating special school. For safeguarding reasons, neither the school nor the individuals within it can be named here. Nonetheless, the hard work, knowledge, creativity and curiosity shown by students and staff alike was a vital source of inspiration and learning throughout the research project. A heartfelt thanks to all who were involved.


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