Carnegie Mellon University

digital music note

March 11, 2024

The Art of Science and Music

By Hope Reveche

Krista Burns

Last semester, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering came together with the School of Music to teach a new course where the sciences and the arts could be integrated with one another.

In this interdisciplinary learning opportunity called “Connection to Self and Others Through Music,” three ECE students attended a two-hour class every week where Dr. Jocelyn Dueck, a collaborative pianist and vocal coach in the School of Music, would coach pianist-singer duos. By observing these sessions, the students were able to learn how musicians and their work could benefit from AI and other kinds of technologies, touching on the importance of blending different disciplines.

“Having a music school positioned within a dynamic research institution such as Carnegie Mellon University gives us unlimited potential for interdisciplinary work where we can sharpen each other and achieve new heights because we're not siloed and stuck in our own bubble,” Dueck says.

As an expert in sound and linguistics with more than 35 years of experience, Dueck is able to point out the needs of musicians and predict where certain technology can be integrated successfully.

One example of this is with reading music and eye-tracking. Musicians, particularly collaborative pianists, have to sight-read music for numerous hours in a day, keeping track of the style of the music, the tempo, or the key signature. However, many of the errors they make can be found in the line breaks or page turns.

“If we had a system where continuous eye scrolling could be tracked, maybe a device that measures the speed at which someone reads, some of those mistakes could be eliminated,” Dueck hypothesizes.

Another example of technology benefiting musicians can be found on the coaching end of things. Coaches are responsible for things like training their students to understand nuance in music and create emotion without sacrificing the quality of sound.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how computers or AI could take charge of the more repeatable tasks I do every day, which would then free me up to do higher-level feedback,” Dueck says.

This semester, Dueck has two groups of students working on projects involving level of focus and decibel monitoring. She hopes that as the course continues to grow, more people will engage in opportunities with the School of Music.

“Any of us at the School of Music would be happy to have somebody sitting in the theater or coaching studio to watch how the process works. People should, of course, come to the performances as well, but it’s also really fun to see how something is built from the ground up,” Dueck says.