What can I say, for a music technologist, and digital musical instrument developer, becoming part of the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) community is a big thing.
The NIME community is one of the biggest communities in the field of music technology and gathers researchers from all over the world that develop, explore or perform with new interfaces for musical expression.
This year’s NIME—my first NIME—was held in Porto Alegre (Brasil), and the location was one of the factors that made me take the plunge and submit a paper to the conference.
Submitting a paper to a conference of this size is never a pleasurable thing. You expect for your research to be criticised, and torn apart, because that’s one of the main reasons why you are publishing. You want the broader community of experts to get acquainted with your research project and potentially give you critical feedback that would help you better your research, your methods and hopefully the outcome of the project.
This was exactly the case for me: I submitted a quite rushed up draft of a comparative case study carried out during my second year as a PhD student (I forgot about the NIME deadline, don’t @ me) and I stepped into some deep mud with some debatable results, possibly controversial findings and a surface level description of the overall process.
I was shot down, feedback was harsh, and I had to take a day or two to recover from the smack on the head. Luckily, the reviewers saw the value of my research and asked me to reframe my paper to describe my system alone, leaving the comparative case study for the following year (case study that is NOW in the process of getting submitted for another publication, stronger than ever).
I travelled to Porto Alegre with my colleague Joe who also had a paper accepted at the conference titled On the Inclusivity of Constraint: Creative Appropriation in Instruments for Neurodiverse Children and Young People, my supervisor James who had a performance accepted. Together with us, there were also Lamberto and Kate, that came to NIME as representatives of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Why did we have to represent the conservatoire?
The reason why such a big team flew all the way to Brazil for a conference was because the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is hosting the NIME2020 conference. Exciting times, but we’re not here to discuss that.
The conference week flew by very fast. While we were locked inside the university for most of the time, we had the chance to explore the city and the nearby park a few times, and that made the trip to Brazil a bit more real.
The researchers met at the conference were inspiring and sparked my interest to explore further developments of my research in different fields (keep an eye out for a possible trip to Paris soon) and overall the experience resulted in being not only worth the travel, but also inspiring and an excellent team bonding experience.
The publication of my research and the feedback received strengthened a few of my research chapters and made me even more ready to submit the thesis and move on to the next chapter of my life.