MirrorFugue: Communicating Presence in Remote Music Collaboration

Tangible Media Group | MIT Media Lab 

Xiao, X. "MirrorFugue: Communicating Presence in Remote Music Collaboration"


This thesis examines the problem of conveying presence across space and time. My work focuses on collaborative music, but findings may be generalized to other fields of collaboration. I present MirrorFugue, a set of interfaces for a piano keyboard designed to visualize the body of a collaborator.

I begin by describing a philosophy of remote communication where the sense of presence of a person is just as essential as the bits of raw information transmitted. I then describe work in remote collaborative workspaces motivated by this view. I apply this philosophy to musical performances, giving a historical perspective and presenting projects in musical collaboration and pedagogy. Next, I describe two iterations of MirrorFugue interfaces. The first introduce three spatial metaphors inspired by remote collaborative workspaces to display the hands of a virtual pianist at the interaction locus of a physical piano. The second iteration introduces a pianist’s face and upper body in the display. I outline usage scenarios for remote collaboration between two users and for a single user interacting with recorded material.

I then present user studies of a MirrorFugue prototype in the context of remote piano lessons. I outline future work directions for increasing the portability of MirrorFugue, enhancing the sense of presence beyond the visual, and expanding MirrorFugue as an augmented piano platform.

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