Dr Tim Anderson has been involved with developing technology and software for disabled people to make music for the last 25 years since (and overlapping) completing his MSc and DPhil in Music Technology. Before that in the 1980’s he taught Physics (after completing a PGCE), but actually graduated in Philosophy (with Natural Sciences Tripos Part 1 before that). It was then he discovered the University Electronic Music Studios, offered to help, and ended up re-organising the studio and teaching students how to use it.
All this has given him a good understanding of ideas, and people’s needs.
He was a key member of the Drake Research Project (DRP) from the beginning of the 90’s. This overlapped with completing his DPhil at the University of York in which he developed an academic ‘computer music’ system called E-Scape.
When Tim started officially with Drake (as honorary research fellow) in 1992, this morphed into a switch-operated composition system, with the aim of facilitating disabled people to compose music totally unaided. Several years later he added performing features, which for some people is their main focus. E-Scape has developed gradually but steadily ever since, with continual input and feedback from users and teachers. It is probably the most complete example of the principle of “letting your users be your designers”.
DRP evolved into Drake Music and Tim became R&D, later Technology Manager.
In the early to mid 90s, we had to train our tutors in how to even use a computer at all, let alone music technology, and there were few interfaces or systems off the shelf, so we were often adapting things ourselves. We did lots of residencies where we worked with a group of local disabled people to create music which we performed at a concert at the end of the week. One such was a week’s music course at the CRC School in Dublin, which was included in a documentary made by RTE called “In From The Margins”.
Since leaving Drake in 2007 Tim has been an independent consultant, working with county Music Services, schools, individuals, and especially with the SKUG centre in Tromsø, Norway, doing training and technology development, including new expressive instruments, and systems.
For example, in June 2014 with funding from Princess Märtha Louise he and SKUG developed an ‘E-Songbook’ system (incorporating a special “Easy” version of E-Scape) to enable untrained assistants to make music with kindergarten, school or day-centre groups without help, which proved very popular when tested. A new project in April 2015 aims to let disabled residents operate the system themselves, which can be permanently left in place.