Thursday 6 June 2019. 4-5pm, Room 113.
Chair: Maria Virginia Acuña, McGill University
Musicians Hold Answers to the Cure for Focal Dystonia
Marie Park, University of British Columbia
Musician’s Focal Dystonia (MFD) is a rare movement disorder that turns healthy musicians’ hands into ungainly claws. Scientific understanding of MFD is limited, and medical institutions prescribe no cure. Yet musicians can and do fully recover from MFD using self-designed recovery techniques. This paper describes one musician-designed recovery method and the scientific literature that might explain why it works. Specifically, the recovery method aims to resolve three aspects of playing: faulty body mechanics, insufficient sensory input, and negative emotional associations. Studies in neuroscience suggest that increasing sensory input may restore damaged somatotopic representations in the brain. Additionally, cultivating positive emotional associations may improve muscle coordination and incorporating movement may improve body awareness. Analyzing musicians’ recovery techniques from MFD could lead to insight into its onset and prevention.
In 2003, Yamaha Corporation released Vocaloid, a vocal synthesis program marketed as a “singer in a box.” Ten years ago, animated Vocaloid characters made the leap from the computer screens of amateur users to concert stages, performing as holographic projections on transparent screens. Scholars have examined the feelings of discomfort and detachment that non-human performers can create. Journalists have similarly directed criticism towards Vocaloid shows, decrying the holographic concerts as an “illusion” with no risk, and no payoff. How can we account for the growing popularity of holographic concerts? What does it reveal about our priorities in 21st-century musical performance? In this paper, I argue that there is more to Vocaloid performance than risk-free concerts. Through live concert case studies and an examination of Vocaloid’s cultural history of creative collaboration, I situate Vocaloid as a user-driven medium and consider the changing meaning of fidelity and liveness in the 21st century.