Longitudinal Evaluation of User Experience with Digital Musical Instruments: Development and Demonstration of a New Method



John Sullivan


P. J. Charles Reimer

Publication or Conference Title:

M.A. Thesis, McGill University


This thesis introduces and demonstrates a method for studying the evolution of user
experience (UX) with digital musical instruments (DMIs) over time. This work begins by discussing DMI performance practice, stakeholders in DMI development, elements of music interaction and the user-instrument relationship, and DMI evaluation. Based on limitations of current evaluation strategies, including idiosyncrasy, informality, lack of focus on experiential components, and limited research describing how experience changes over time, a new longitudinal method for studying UX as users learn to play a DMI was developed. Following description of the procedure and data collection strategies, this work presents initial execution of the method. Over twenty days, three participants of diverse musical backgrounds learned to play a DMI, the T-Stick, through a series of musical tasks, and developed an original musical excerpt. At multiple points, experiential data was collected using surveys and interviews. Results illustrated how each individual approached and experienced their interaction with the T-Stick based on their specific background, and highlighted aspects of the instrument and methodology that could be revised prior to conducting a longer, more thorough, replication with more participants. Three contributions are noted. Methodologically, this work describes a demonstration of a new method for studying changes in UX with DMIs over time. Practical contributions include feedback related to the hardware, mapping, and sound synthesis used. Finally, this research contributes theoretically to the understanding of differing DMI stakeholder perspectives, suggesting existing categorical models may not sufficiently characterize the multidisciplinary DMI user.

Publication Details:

Masters Thesis
Montreal, Qc, Canada

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