What is the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI)?
Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) software interface enables people who have very limited controlled (voluntary) movement to independently engage in music making. Founded by musician, composer, and humanitarian, Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016), the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) project brings together the expertise of technicians at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the community education initiatives of the Deep Listening Institute, now the Center for Deep Listening at RPI, and is headquartered at the Center for Cognition, Consciousness, and Culture, directed by Jonas Braasch, at RPI. The AUMI is one of the research projects of the International Institutes of Critical Improvisation Studies.
The Adaptive Use Musical Instruments software interface enables the user to play sounds and musical phrases through movement and gestures. This is an entry to improvisation rather than “hitting the right notes” or playing set pieces of music. Instead, the software uses music as a way for participants to express a range of affects, both by themselves and in response to, or in conversation with, others. While the AUMI interface can be used by anyone, the focus has been on working with children who have profound physical disabilities. In taking these participants as its starting point the project attempts to make musical improvisation and collaboration accessible to the widest possible range of individuals. This approach also opens up the possibility of learning more about the relations between ability, the body, creativity and improvisation, from within a cultural context that does not always acknowledge or accept people with disabilities.