DJ research project with University of Birmingham and Native Instruments

We are proud to announce that Drake Music is partnering with the University of Birmingham and TRAKTOR at Native Instruments on a research project entitled ‘Embodied Timing and Disability in DJ Practice’.

The research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is led by Dr Maria Witek at the Department of Music, University of Birmingham. The project will run from February 2022 to July 2023.

We are pleased to share a Guest Post from Dr Maria Witek to tell you more about it.

Two CD dj decks

DJing is a sophisticated musical skill that requires a musician to perceive and manipulate multiple, continuously changing rhythmic patterns at the same time.

The synchronisation of two or more recorded tracks playing simultaneously is an embodied activity involving the coordination of processes occurring in the body, the brain, the turntables and the sonic patterns in the music.

Different physical and cognitive capacities lead to different ways of engaging with the instrument and performing the skill. Because DJ and dance music practices have been neglected in music performance research, we do not yet know how the processes in the body, brain, turntable and music interact to make this skill possible. Furthermore, the exclusion of disabled musicians from academic research means that we know little about musical embodiment in the context of disability.

One stage of this project will use interviews to understand embodiment in disabled DJs, learn how disabled DJs adapt their performance strategies and instruments when DJing and what they need to make DJing more accessible to them.

The interviews will be designed in conversation with disabled DJs, in accordance with the disability rights principle of “nothing about us without us”. The project thus offers disabled DJs a voice in the academic discourse surrounding disability, DJing and embodiment.

The research will culminate in a workshop where the project researchers and participants will work with Drake Music and Native Instruments, a world-leading developer of DJ instruments, to translate the research to advance more accessible DJ tools and environments.

The workshop will facilitate conversations between disabled musicians and industrial partners, allowing them to test existing and new instruments in light of the results of the research. In this way, the project will contribute to making steps towards a more inclusive dance music culture.

We will share more from this research project as it progresses. Keep an eye on our site for updates.

Image: Gabriella Barletta

Leave a Reply