Asha Ward is a research engineer currently working in the field of music technology. Her work focusses on using hardware and software to create new and accessible musical instruments. She is interested in using participatory design to explore the creations of tools that elicit new modes of interaction.
Music is essential to most of us, it can light up all areas of the brain, help develop skills with communication, help to establish identity, and allow a unique path for expression. People with complex needs can face barriers to participation with music-making and sound exploration activities when using instruments and technology aimed at typically able users.
My research explores the creation of novel and bespoke hardware and software to allow accessibility to music creation for those with cognitive, physical, or sensory impairments and/or disabilities.
Using tools like Arduino and sensor based hardware, alongside software such as Max/MSP and Ableton Live, the aim is to provide innovative systems that allow for the creation of personal instruments that tailor to individual needs and capabilities. These instruments can then be used to interact with sound in new ways not available with traditional acoustic instruments. Technology can be used to turn tiny movements into huge sounds and tangible user interfaces can be used to investigate the relationship between the physical and digital world, leading to new modes of interaction.
Working with my industrial sponsor the Three Ways School in Bath and industrial mentor Luke Woodbury of dotLib, my research will take use an Action Research methodology to create bespoke, tangible tools that combine hardware and software allowing central users, and those facilitating, to create and explore sound in a participatory way.