State of the Art

The aim of this section is to give an overview of current research trends (we deliberately refrain from trying to summarise the state of the art, as that would go far beyond what can be done here), with a special emphasis on the open issues that wait to be addressed, or are currently being worked on. Faced with the great variety of research topics within SMC, we have tried to give our summary a coherent structure by grouping the topics into three major areas – Sound, Interaction and Music – which are further divided into sub-areas.


The figure depicts the relationships between the different research areas and sub-areas as we see them. We make a basic distinction between research that focuses on sound (left-hand side of the figure) and research that focuses on music (right-hand side of the figure). For each research field, there is an analytic and a synthetic approach. The analytic approach goes from encoded physical (sound) energy to meaning (sense), whereas the synthetic approach goes in the opposite direction, from meaning (sense) to encoded physical (sound) energy. Accordingly, analytic approaches to sound and music pertain to analysis and understanding, whereas synthetic approaches pertain to generation and processing. In between sound and music, there are multi-faceted research fields that focus on interactional aspects. These are performance modelling and control, music interfaces, and sound interaction design.