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Exploration across disciplines earns graduate student Fulbright award

Courtney Brown
August 16, 2013

Courtney Brown, a doctor of musical arts in the School of Music at Arizona State University, is a recipient of a 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award.

A composer, performer and software developer, Brown focuses on interdisciplinary digital media and performance through her concentration in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering. Her projects and performances explore the connection between movement, embodiment and music, ranging from the composition of instrumental music, to the creation of musical robots and novel music interfaces, to working with dancers and choreographers.

“Stylistically, I have been very influenced by music inspired by dance, especially the tango. I frequently borrow rhythmic patterns from tango, flamenco, bhangra and other types of dance music,” she said.

The Fulbright program offers fellowships to U.S. students for study and research abroad. Brown will be traveling to Buenos Aires in order to compose musical interactive systems that enable tango dancers to become part of the creation of the music in the context of a tango milonga or tango social dance by affecting the music through their movements. Her goals for the project are to build bridges between the electro-acoustic music and tango communities, to explore interactive music in a novel context and to create greater cohesion between tango dance and music.

She will be collaborating with professors Ricardo Dal Farra, Raúl Minsburg and Bernardo Piñero from the Centro de Experimentación e Investigación en Artes Electrónicas at Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, and Andrea Uchital, a tango expert from Escuela de Tango Buenos Aires, on the project. She will be supervised by Garth Paine, an ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering associate professor.

A preliminary prototype of the interactive system was created in collaboration with the School of Arts, Media and Engineering alumus Christopher Dean in November 2012.This prototype altered projected visuals according to the direction and speed of dancers' movement, both as a couple and as a member of the larger group of dancers. Software was developed to detect motion and capture individual dancers and partners from frame to frame.

Paine said, “I am very excited that after my initial discussions with professors Farra, Minsburg and Piñero on Courtney's behalf, they agreed to support Courtney's research and development work in the heart of Tango, Argentina. Pioneers in electronic music in Argentina, they collectively represent the very best research and creative work coming from that country and have been widely celebrated internationally. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award illustrates the real innovation this project represents. I am sure the outcomes will be exciting.”

Visit for more information about Brown's work.

The doctor of musical arts in music with a concentration in interdisciplinary digital media and performance is a collaboration between the School of Music and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering in the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Learn more.