Ritwik Banerji: How the Virtual Free Improviser Maxine Works

01 Sep, 2016

Ritwik Banerji: How the Virtual Free Improviser Maxine Works

BCNM DE student Ritwik Banerji (Ethnomusicology) has recently published his paper "Balancing Defiance and Cooperation: The Design and Human Critique of a Virtual Free Improviser", on the design of a virtual free improviser known as “Maxine”, built to generate creative output through interaction with human musicians. This paper was published under the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) and the Department of Music, UC Berkeley.

You can read an abstract of the article below:
This paper presents the design of a virtual free improviser, known as “Maxine”, built generate creative output in interaction with human musicians by exploiting a pitch detection algorithm’s idiosyncratic interpretation of a relatively noisy and pitchless sonic environment. After an overview of the system’s design and behavior, a summary of improvisers’ critiques of the system are presented, focusing on the issue of balancing between system output which supports and opposes the playing of human musical interactants. System evaluation of this kind is not only useful for further system development, but as an investigation of the implicit ethics of listening and interacting between players in freely improvised musical performance.

An online version of this open-access article can be found here on