Master Thesis Project

A Software for Guided Meta-Improvisation Performance

This project is inspired in a problem I felt as a music student. I noticed that during many years of studying, I had never worked many of the aspects related to the music interpretation in a personal point of view. I´ve never really worked improvisation, creativity, speech fluency, communication of ideas and the proximity to the instrument that in my opinion, any player should have.    

Qualia intends to fill up some of these flaws, with the purpose of helping the musicians who have been felling these necessities.    

Qualia is a system which produces scores throughout caption, analysis and processing the music made by a group of interpreters who agreed to participate in this study. They were asked to improvise together, listening to each other, making a stimulating musical environment. The only aspect that was asked would be for them to be influenced by the suggestions of a graphic, which they would learn how to relate with. The information management between the musicians was oriented by the system, as well as the composer/pilot, leading, this way, the musical performance.    


This is basically what Qualia is about: the existing relationship between the composer, who is used to characteristic interpretation of classic music or the improvisational structures of jazz, and interaction score, which sound is born through itself.

cello: Tiago Azevedo
basson: Francisco Soutinho Ventura
guitar: André B. Silva
percussion: André Dias
composer/pilot: Manuel Brásio


«While spectromorphology is concerned with the way in which sounds move in time, it begs the question, ‘What is moving?’

A sound object is a fundamental, distinguishable, perceivable sound unit.

There are certain qualities of a sound object this system attempts to visually express. Those qualities can be described by the term qualia.

(…) the term qualia provides an intellectual mechanism by which we can talk about the character or constitution of a sound object outside of its motion behaviour. A definition of qualia freely adapted from Daniel Dennett is that of an ineffable, intrinsic, and private recognition in the conscious mind of the characteristics or qualitative essence of any object (…)

There are three aspects we can consider to form the qualia of any sound object. They are duration (time), register (pitch), and spectra (timbre). (...) Of course, sound objects may merge, morph, and change right before our ears.

But a sound object is a fundamental unit perceived as homogenous, then the qualia of any sound object are its description.»

Kevin Patton


Thank you to everyone involved in the development of this project
Rui Penha / Gilberto Bernardes / Filipe Fernandes / José Tiago Baptista/
Tiago Ralha / Tiago Candal / João Barros / Jorge Neves / Hugo Santos / Luis Aly / Jorge Pandeirada / Urbano Ferreira / Filipe Vieira / Eugénio Amorim / João Grilo / Daniela Castro / Leonor Abrunheiro  / Manuel Brázio / Beatriz Rosendo.
FEUP / AMVC / ESMAE / AISCA / Interferência