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you are required to split your attention between multiple sources of information_video & photo documentation

posted on 2021-03-24, 14:54 authored by James SaundersJames Saunders

you are required to split your attention between multiple sources of information (2018) for string quartet and large ensemble presents the players with a stream of auditory cues to which they must respond with specified sounds. The cues regularly switch between different types and are directed at different sub-groups within the two ensembles, requiring the players to think and act very quickly. The piece explores cognitive load and the way we remember associations between cues and responses. The cues include samples of real-world sounds which induce a range of different responses, as well as text-to-speech computer voices reading extracts from the Harvard Sentences (a set of phonetically balanced texts developed in the 1960s to test artificial voice modelling) and giving other verbal cues. The title is adapted from Mousavi, Low and Sweller’s 'Reducing Cognitive Load by Mixing Auditory and Visual Presentation Modes’ (1995) in which they investigate the split-attention effect and its impact on cognitive load. In the piece, all the cues and responses are aural, requiring players to negotiate the stream of information in one mode. The increased cognitive load affects the speed of response by players and the variations in time required to complete sound-producing actions on the different instruments, producing an unpredictable trail of sounds after each cue.

This item contains video and photo documentation of the full performance of you are required to split your attention between multiple sources of information. Commissioned by Wien Modern. First performed by Arditti Quartet and Ensemble Modern at Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna, 23 November 201

Videographer credit: James Saunders

Photo credit: Wien Modern/Markus Sepperer

A short extract of the performance may be viewed at the following link:

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