Adaptive Use Musical Instruments – KU InterArts

AUMI-KU InterArts is a Member of the AUMI Consortium, an international research group dedicated to exploring, sustaining, developing, and sharing the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument.  Each AUMI Consortium Member institution has a particular area of focus. Ours is interdisciplinary arts and improvisation.

What is the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI)?

Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) software interface enables people who have very limited controlled (voluntary) movement to independently engage in music making. Led by musician, composer, and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros, the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) project brings together the expertise of technicians at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the community education initiatives of the Deep Listening Institute.

The Adaptive Use Musical Instruments software interface enables the user to play sounds and musical phrases through movement and gestures. This is an entry to improvisation rather than “hitting the right notes” or playing set pieces of music. Instead, the software uses music as a way for participants to express a range of affects, both by themselves and in response to, or in conversation with, others. While the AUMI interface can be used by anyone, the focus has been on working with children who have profound physical disabilities. In taking these participants as its starting point the project attempts to make musical improvisation and collaboration accessible to the widest possible range of individuals. This approach also opens up the possibility of learning more about the relations between ability, the body, creativity and improvisation, from within a cultural context that does not always acknowledge or accept people with disabilities.

University of Kansas and AUMI-KU InterArts

Globally, disparities in wealth, health care, education, political power, and social status threaten our world. Such divides are obstacles to human rights, human development, and political stability. Lack of community can root us in untenable situations. Specific answers to this global challenge will promote enhanced self-reliance and worth, stronger communities, and greater appreciation of the power of diversity and constructive discourse.”

KU Bold Aspirations Strategic Initiativesm Theme 3: Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities

AUMI-KU InterArts is committed to expanding opportunities and building communities across abilities through creativity. Because AUMI uses body movement to make sound, it has implications for dance and theater applications as well as music. We want to use the AUMI in settings that combine not only people of varying abilities but also artistic practices, training, and experience from various arts. By expanding the opportunities for group improvisation among people with a wide range of mobility, sensory perception, and cognitive processing, as well as across different modes of artistic expression, the AUMI helps us to learn how communities may build and grow across difference. Culturally specific hierarchies of sound, image, motion, and language may be challenged, along with societal definitions of “whole” or “normal” bodies. While the Disability Rights Movement has done much to address the disparities in political power and social status of people with disabilities, much more work is needed to explore the potential of interdisciplinary expressive cultural practice in transforming social consciousness and point toward new modes of inclusive sociality. AUMI-KU focuses on such possibilities in the areas of creativity and the arts.

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