My name is Dario Niccoli and I come from Prato, a city just outside Florence.
I have started this crowdfunding campaign since I have recently received an amazing PhD offer from the Computer Science Research Centre of the Royal College of Art. It resulted from a spontaneous application I made, proposing a personal project I developed during the past year, regarding an interdisciplinary subject that involves music, artificial intelligence and human-machine interactions.
Unfortunately, this offer does not include any funding, both because at the time I applied there were no studentships available at RCA and because of COVID-19 some potential external funding institution did not open the applications for the academic year 2020/21.
Being the Royal College of Art a highly selective institution and ranked world’s No.1 Art & Design university for the fifth year in a row, I am extremely proud of this outcome and the appreciation received since it shows the potential and quality of this research.
I have always been extremely passionate about music, creative fields and engineering matters and I have always had very clear in mind what kind of personal and academic path I wanted to follow.
This determination led me to graduate in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Florence in April 2017 and then in Audio Acoustics at the University of Salford in November 2018.
During my studies I have worked professionally as a self-taught sound engineer for about six years in live concerts, recording studios and theatrical performances.
I have worked very hard to arrive at this point and in recent years, due to several experiences I have had, I have fallen in love with scientific research, and that is the kind of career I aspire to undertake.
The opportunity of doing a PhD at the Royal College of Art, even in luckier historic periods, would have been something unique, but in my case, being an EU citizen, I believe it could really not happen again also because of Brexit. Next year the annual university fee will rise up to £29,000 per year, which is something unreachable for me.
So, it is basically now or never, that is why I am humbly asking you even for the smallest donation or just to share this campaign with your network.
Starting this PhD would allow me to:
- Have access to facilities and expertise of one of the world's top universities.
- Connect with a high-level community of researchers, innovators and creatives.
- Carry out my research in London; one of the most vibrant and active cities in the world from a technology and innovation perspective.
THE BUDGET (for one year)
- University annual fee = £9,750 (£8,800 covered by Doctoral Loan, £950 on me)
- Accommodation = £200pcm x 12 = £2,400 (living in a Homeshare scheme accommodation LINK)
- Living Expenses = £300pcm x 12 = £3,600
TOTAL = £6,950
(I am allowed to work 20 hours per week, so I will apply for jobs even if it is a very uncertain option due to COVID-19)
THE RESEARCH – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The implementation of new musical instruments brings forth the creation of new musical languages, where a set of syntactic rules defines how new body gestures connect to specific original sounds. To better explain this concept, a really good example is the creation of the electric guitar. It has been initially invented just to amplify acoustic guitars, but through a new body language and the aid of effects to generate new sounds, new rules on how to play this instrument have been defined by musicians like Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton.
From these statements arises the motivation of this research project to investigate how deep learning can create a novel and predictable rule-based system in which meaningful mapping relationships between unfamiliar body movements and new sounds are realised, reaching a level of expressivity as close as possible to that of well-established musical instruments.
Investing in this research means helping the creation of new musical instruments and technologies in engineering and creative areas, contributing to different fields, such as musical education, serious gaming, immersive technologies and movement sonification for rehabilitation.