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Executive Summary

Digital Music Research UK Roadmap

Developed by the Digital Music Research Network
Supported by EPSRC

Music mediated by technology, created by computers or presented through a computer medium, has become a key expression of our twenty-first century culture. Far reaching changes have occured which are just the beginning of our exploration of music using the technologies of the new millennium.

What is digital music research?

Sophisticated digital tools for the creation, generation and dissemination of music have established clear synergies between music and leisure industries, the use of technology within art, the creative industries and the creative economy.

Developments in technology have enabled
  • A greater understanding of music and sound
  • New creative opportunities for musicians and composers
  • Improved access to music of all kinds
Research in digital music includes
  • Musical composition, production and creation
  • Musical performance and presentation
  • Recording and music capture, including the storage, transmission and dissemination of music
  • The reproduction of sound, including surround sound and sound playback technologies
  • Musical perception and listening
  • Analysis and understanding of music

What is the Roadmap?

The UK Digital Music Research Roadmap is a collection of documents created to help to identify, support and encourage future research in the developing transdiscipline of digital music.

The Roadmap defines research goals, challenges and themes for future research activity. It provides information for administrators, funders, researchers and students about the extent and activities of the current digital music research community in the UK and suggests mechanisms which will facilitate academic inquiry and industrial outcomes, supporting the creative industries and economy through the twenty first century.

Who is the Roadmap for?

The Roadmap is for members of the music industry, artists, academics, students, policy makers, institutional administrators and funding organisations. It is targeted at the audiences that have a role to play if activity in this area is to flourish.

Why do we need a Roadmap?

Research which combines art and engineering along with aspects if the physical and human sciences, has given rise to a transdiscipline of digital music. It draws upon the strengths of a large community of researchers from many disciplines. Transdisciplines do not have ready access to traditional methods of support that target funds within long-standing disciplinary boundaries, so potentially valuable research can fall between the remits of funding bodies.

The Roadmap is needed to direct and stimulate future development of this transdisciplinary subject. It concentrates upon research activity and establishes themes and goals for the next ten year period.

Part of its role is to inform people about the nature and extent of digital music based research, its future and the challenges ahead. It also contains information to give a picture of the UK research community.

Research themes

The Important themes for the development of digital music research over the next ten years will be:
  • the analysis, perception and understanding of music,
  • human factors, the solutions to problems which humans face when trying to implement creative ideas with computer technologies;
  • research conducted within a professional musical context, to ensure the relevance and the application of research outcomes
  • developments in music distribution mediated by technology
  • music as a valuable demonstrator for many areas of research and time based computing activities
  • real-time, interactive musical applications for musical performance and production.

Research goals

Major research goals and outcomes over the next ten years will lie in the areas of:
  • Machine listening
  • High-level parametric control of musical information
  • Fertile technological environments for creativity in music
  • Musical innovation
  • Music exploitation and dissemination
  • Sound reproduction and recording

How can Digital Music research be supported?

The continued development of digital music research requires:
  • New mechanisms within institutions and between UK and European institutions to support transdisciplinary research in digital music;
  • Appropriate methods of funding through targeted programmes and cooperative actions between funding councils;
  • Collaborative research between established UK and European research groups to draw upon diverse expertise;
  • Support for industrial development, to fund the gap between research output and products, knowledge or services suitable for industrial or market exploitation;
  • Networks and vehicles for communications and dialogue between professional and student researchers;
  • Education and research in transdisciplinary studies related to digital music.
How was the Roadmap constructed?

The Roadmap has been developed from the activities of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) supported Digital Music Research Network. The network has conducted surveys of researchers, held meetings, conferences and workshops over the last three years which have featured international speakers, open panel discussions and debates for researchers, students and members of the digital music industry.

The information from these activities was drawn together into the final documentation by a panel of experts who have incorporated and moderated submissions from contributors and the members of the DMRN.

Roadmap Coordinator and lead author:
Dr Tony Myatt, University of York.

Roadmap authoring team

Dr Barry Eaglestone, University of Sheffield
Prof Eduardo Miranda, University of Plymouth
Dr Tony Myatt, University of York
Dr Mark Plumbley, Queen Mary, University of London
Prof Francis Rumsey, University of Surrey

Contributions to the roadmap were received from members of the EPSRC's Digital Music Research Network.

Further information about the DMRN, its membership and activities can be found at the DMRN website.