School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

C4DM Seminar: Rob Toulson on “Digital Music Innovation and Culture”

21 July 2014

Time: 2:00 - 3:00pm
Venue: Eng. 2.09 Engineering Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

Rob Toulson of Anglia Ruskin University will give a seminar entitled "Digital Music Innovation and Culture". This C4DM Seminar will take place in ENG 209 (the Engineering building) at Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS.

Title: Digital Music Innovation and Culture

Abstract: Our relationships with music is continuously evolving, predominantly owing to digital innovations relating to the creation, distribution and use of musical content. The ‘user experience’ is therefore rapidly changing, for both the user as a recording artist and the user as a music listener. In this seminar I will discuss our musical culture from both a creative and commercial viewpoint and talk specifically about two research case studies conduced at the Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

The first case study is the novel iDrumTune application which can assist percussionists in tuning and benchmarking the sound of a drum kit. Having conducted a number of new studies into the acoustics of cylindrical drums, we have been able to develop a tuning aid specifically tailored for percussionists. The iDrumTune app has been well received by the music playing public and recording industry alike, and has generated a number of new avenues for research in percussion acoustics with respect to music genre, song key and tempo.

The second research project looks at the music listener experience and how it has changed through the emergence (and decline) of analogue and digital music formats. In particular we have evaluated the ‘album app’ as a potential music format of the future, which can combine the artistic merits of vinyl records (eg. artwork, song lyrics and producer credits) with the functional benefits of digital platforms (eg. portability, rapid catalogue access and random play). Funded by NESTA’s Digital R&D grant for the arts, this project showcases the album app ‘Piano Ombre’ by Francois and the Atlas Mountains as the first chart eligible music album for iOS devices.

Bio: Dr Rob Toulson is Director of the Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. He was previously Director of the Sound and Audio Engineering Research Group at Anglia Ruskin University. Rob is also a successful music producer and recording, mixing and mastering engineer. In particular, he has worked as recording and mix engineer on a number of albums for Mediaeval Baebes, who have previously topped the UK classical album chart. Rob has also worked collaboratively across a diverse range of music genres including rock, metal, electronica, folk and pop.

Dr Toulson is an active researcher in sound, audio and music production fields, holding a first degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Digital Signal Processing. He has a number of years’ experience working in the audio and electronics industries, as well as teaching audio and music technology in Higher Education. Rob is founder of the Cambridge regional branch of the Audio Engineering Society and he is also a committee member of the AES British Section and a Co-Chair of the Innovation in Music Conference. He is a Director of both Half-ton Studios in Cambridge and High Barn Studios in Essex, as well as Director of his own music production and audio software development company, RT Sixty Ltd. Rob is the author of ‘Fast and Effective Embedded Systems Design: applying the ARM mbed’ published by Newnes in 2012. He is also inventor of the iDrumTune iPhone App, which assists percussionists with drum tuning.