On the Inclusivity of Constraint: Creative Appropriation in Instruments for Neurodiverse Children and Young People

Wright, Joe and Dooley, James

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

Taking inspiration from research into deliberately constrained musical technologies and the emergence of neurodiverse, child-led musical groups such as the Artism Ensemble, the interplay between design-constraints, inclusivity and appro- priation is explored. A small scale review covers systems from two prominent UK-based companies, and two itera- tions of a new prototype system that were developed in collaboration with a small group of young people on the autistic spectrum. Amongst these technologies, the aspects of musical experience that are made accessible differ with re- spect to the extent and nature of each system’s constraints. It is argued that the design-constraints of the new prototype system facilitated the diverse playing styles and techniques observed during its development. Based on these obser- vations, we propose that deliberately constrained musical instruments may be one way of providing more opportuni- ties for the emergence of personal practices and preferences in neurodiverse groups of children and young people, and that this is a fitting subject for further research.