Special Lecture

Learning to Build Natural Audio Production Interfaces

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
4:10 pm to 5:00 pm

Bryan Pardo

Today, digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Audacity, ProTools and GarageBand are the primary platforms used in the recording, editing, mixing, and producing of sound art and media, including music, podcasts, movie soundtracks, and more. Despite the fact that these tools are broadly available to a wide variety of users, their interfaces remain heavily influenced by conventions established in the 1970s for hardware tools used by audio engineers. Users communicate their audio concepts to complex software tools using on-screen knobs and sliders that control low-level technical parameters. It is often not obvious to a non-engineer (e.g., an acoustic musician, a podcaster) how to manipulate the knobs and sliders to achieve desired effects. This frustrates users and limits their creative output.

In this talk, Prof. Pardo will focus on his lab’s work to bridge the gap between the interfaces of these software tools and musicians, podcasters, and sound artists who use the tools. Rather than force nonintuitive interactions, or remove control altogether through automation, they reframe the controls to work within the interaction paradigms that audio engineers and musicians use to communicate auditory concepts to each other: evaluative feedback, natural language, vocal imitation, and exploration.

Prof. Pardo will provide an overview of their research on building audio production tools, such as mixers and equalizers, to support these kinds of interactions. He will describe the learning algorithms, design approaches, and software that support these interaction paradigms. Finally, he will discuss new directions in broadening participation in sound art and media production by moving towards interfaces that remove the structural barriers imposed upon blind and visually impaired (BVI) sound artists by existing interfaces for audio and music production.

Face masks are required in South Hall and all UC Berkeley buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

Bryan Pardo is head of Northwestern University’s Interactive Audio Lab and co-director of the Northwestern University HCI+Design institute. Prof. Pardo has appointments in the Department of Computer Science and Department of Radio, Television and Film. He received a M. Mus. in jazz studies in 2001 and a Ph.D. in computer science in 2005, both from the University of Michigan. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications. He has developed speech analysis software for the speech and hearing department of the Ohio State University, statistical software for SPSS, and worked as a machine learning researcher for General Dynamics. He has collaborated on and developed technologies acquired and patented by companies like Bose, Adobe and Ear Machine. While finishing his doctorate, he taught in the music department of Madonna University. When he is not teaching or researching, he performs on saxophone and clarinet with the bands Son Monarcas and The East Loop.

Last updated:

November 29, 2021