eBILITY: From Tool Use to Partnerships
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In this article we identify how computational automation achieved through programming has enabled a new class of music technologies with generative music capabilities. These generative systems can have a degree of music making autonomy that impacts on our relationships with them; we suggest that this coincides with a shift in the music-equipment relationship from tool use to a partnership. This partnership relationship can occur when we use technologies that display qualities of agency. It raises questions about the kinds of skills and knowledge that are necessary to interact musically in such a partnership. These are qualities of musicianship we call eBility. In this paper we seek to define what eBility might consist of and how consideration of it might effect music education practice. The 'e' in eBility refers not only to the electronic nature of computing systems but also to the ethical, enabling, experiential and educational dimensions of the creative relationship with technologies with agency. We hope to initiate a discussion around differentiating what we term representational technologies from those with agency and begin to uncover the implications of these ideas for music educators in schools and communities. We hope also to elucidate the emergent theory and practice that has enabled the development of strategies for optimising this kind of eBility where the tool becomes partner. The identification of musical technologies with agency adds to the authors' list of metaphors for technology use in music education that previously included tool, medium and instrument. We illustrate these ideas with examples and with data from our work with the jam2jam interactive music system. In this discussion we will outline our experiences with jam2jam as an example of a technology with agency and describe the aspects of eBility that interaction with it promotes.
Journal of Music Technology in Education
© 2012 Intellect Ltd . This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
Musicology and Ethnomusicology