Sept 2017 Arizona State University

Lauren Hayes takes the idea of “feeling the music” to a literal level. Hayes, assistant professor in Arizona State University's School of Arts, Media and Engineering, works with haptic technology, or touch-based technology. Haptic feedback allows composers and performers like Hayes to deeply understand new and self-built digital instruments and to know how the music actually feels, which influences the musical outcomes both in composing and in the live performance.

But Hayes is more than a composer and performer. She also sees the benefits of researching haptics and of expanding education in electronic music. “My current research in this area involves a Herberger Institute-funded research project in collaboration with ASU Speech and Hearing Science examining the benefits of using haptic feedback for music perception in cochlear implant users,” Hayes said.

Laren Hayes

Lauren Hayes, assistant professor in the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering researching digital music and haptic technologies

Throughout her career she has given multi-sensory workshops that use vibration and music to explore the links between sound and touch. These workshops included working with several groups, from those with sensory impairment to students with learning difficulties to people with autism. Earlier this year she spoke about a large-scale project called Sound, Electronics and Music that provided education on various topics related to sound and music technology to around 900 school children in Scotland. “A particular emphasis was placed on providing a form of music education that would engender creative practice that was available to all, regardless of both musical ability and background,” Hayes said. “The findings and outcomes of the project suggest that we should not be restricting the discussion of how to continue to educate future generations in the practices surrounding computer music to the university level. We may be failing to engage an age group that is growing readily familiar with the skills and vocabulary surrounding new technologies.” Hayes hopes expanding electronic music education will bring more people to the art form. Her research on this project won her the Best Paper Award at the International Computer Music Conference in 2016. “If we do the hard work surrounding how we present and teach music technology, and to whom, we might have a much richer diversity of people making electronic music, which, of course, can only lead to better art and better music,” she said.

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