Young children confronting the Continuator, an interactive reflective musical system
Addessi, A. R. & Pachet, F. (2005). Young children confronting the Continuator, an interactive reflective musical system. Musicae Scientiae, Special issue 2005-2006, 13-39.
Background in music education. The present study deals with various the interaction between children and musical machines. One of the principal aims is to understand how the use of interactive musical systems can affect the learning and the musical creativity of children and more especially of younger children (3 to 5 years old). Background in artificial intelligence. An innovative system was conceived at the Sony CSL in Paris which is able to produce music in the same style as the person playing the keyboard. The name chosen for this machine is the Continuator. Its basic design is that of Interactive Reflective systems where the core concept is to teach musical processes indirectly by putting the user in a situation where learning takes place through the actual interaction between the user and the system. Aims. The aim of the study is to understand in what way the children relate to this particular interactive musical system, what kinds of musical and relational behaviours are developed, and how interactive reflective systems can be used in the educational field to stimulate creativity and the pleasure of playing. Method. The study involved 27 children aged 3 to 5 years, in a kindergarten in Bologna (Italy). Three sessions were held once a day for 3 consecutive days. In every session, the children were asked to play on the keyboard in 4 different situations: with the keyboard alone, with the keyboard connected to the Continuator, with another child, and with another child and the Continuator. Results. The present paper reports the observation of three particular aspects: the emergence of a life cycle of interaction, moving from initial surprise, to phases featuring excitement, analytical behaviour and invention; the fact that the two tasks involving the system gave rise to the longest attention span characterized by strong intrinsic motivation and joint attention; the varied nature of the listening behaviours. Conclusion. The results show how an interactive reflective system such as the Continuator can develop interesting child/computer interaction and promote creative musical behaviours in young children. This outcome points to the considerable potential offered by the association between the disciplines of music education and artificial intelligence. ...