Human-technology interfaces with the tactile metronome

Author: Hesselink, Nathan

Publication details: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144, no. 3 (2018): 1891-1891.


Abstract: The story of the metronome is the story of humankind coming to terms with evolving conceptions of time and coordination as mediated through technologies of the modern age. What began as a tool for regulating and documenting tempo soon became the temporal yardstick by which aspiring musicians strove to emulate in practice and performance. In the early twentieth century the metronome took on the new role of synchronizing live musicians with moving images on a screen (the so-called “click track”), and as the century progressed the metronome would come to dictate the manner in which musicians related to each other in the recording studio and in live events. This paper focuses on the latest manifestation of this phenomenon, the tactile metronome, looking at how vibrotactile stimulation is being used for temporal synchronization as well as an enhanced sense of embodiment for the performer, including haptic feedback. Four modern products tailored to performing musicians will be introduced and analyzed in the overlapping contexts of synchronization and embodiment. It is my argument that the metronome has now come full circle, returning a sense of human feel to the experience of making music.