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Flow of creative interaction with digital music notations

Nash, Chris; Blackwell, Alan

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Chris Nash
Senior Lecturer in Music Tech - Software Development

Alan Blackwell


Karen Collins

Bill Kapralos

Holly Tessler


This chapter highlights disjunctions between usability approaches and the needs of creative music practices, drawing on research into creativity and human–computer interaction (HCI) to integrate concepts of flow, virtuosity, and liveness into the design of digital notations. While computers support the production and transcription of creative ideas, current user interfaces are less suited to exploratory creativity, sketching, and the early stages of the creative process. The chapter discusses properties of interfaces and notations that influence such support. It then presents both a set of usability heuristics for virtuosity, to aid the design of user interfaces supporting skill and learning, and a technique for modeling aspects of flow and liveness within the creative user experience, emphasizing user focus and system feedback. Findings and theories are discussed in the context of examples from desktop and studio music software, such as sequencers and trackers, but they can also be generalized to other scenarios in digital creativity.


Nash, C., & Blackwell, A. (2014). Flow of creative interaction with digital music notations. In K. Collins, B. Kapralos, & H. Tessler (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio (387-404). New York: Oxford University Press.

Publication Date May 29, 2014
Deposit Date Aug 26, 2015
Publicly Available Date May 29, 2016
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 387-404
Series Title Oxford Handbooks in Music
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio
ISBN 9780199797226
Keywords notation, flow, liveness, virtuosity, HCI, computer music, sequencers, trackers, user experience, digital creativity, feedback
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Reproduction of Nash, C. and Blackwell, A. (2014) Flow of creative interaction with digital music notations. In: Collins, K., Kapralos, B. and Tessler, H., eds. (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 387-404. ISBN 9780199797226, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press:


Flow of Creative Interaction with Digital Music Notations - Oxford Handbooks.pdf (780 Kb)

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