Emma Waddell

Computer Musician · Computer Scientist · Saxophonist




About Me


Emma Waddell is a computer scientist and musician studying at NYU Gallatin. Their concentration is focused on how natural and biological processes influence algorithmic and computer music. This includes simulations and the use of neural networks, as well as the study of communication from a musical/visual and linguistic standpoint.

They have received multiple research grants to study these ideas, and create new music using their computer and their saxophone. Additionally they have studied extensive music theory through jazz saxophone and classical piano. They are also interested in video game development and woodworking!

Look through this portfolio to read about their research and listen to some notable live performances.


SuperCollider as a Reactive Performer (Honors Undergraduate Thesis)

Emma created an artificially intelligent system using SuperCollider. This system allows for a connection between user inputted LiveCode beats and input from an acoustic instrumentalist. The AI can take information from the user inputted beat, and extrapolate important information to create more or less intense versions. The system then tracks the instrumental input and moves through these varying intensities based on the intensity of the performer. This research project was presented on at the Gallatin Senior Symposium.

Github » Research Paper »

Creative Neural Networks

Emma created a procedurally generated platformer game in Unity. User inputs and choices are fed into a creative neural network in Pure Data which generates a live soundtrack for the game that evolves as more user data is sent in. This project was funded by the NYU Gallatin Dean's Award for Summer Research, and Emma was selected to present on this project at the IAWM Music in the Time of Change conferense, as well as the Gallatin Student Research Conference.

Conference Video » Research Paper » Game Download » Blog Posts »

Bird Ring

Emma composed an album of algorithmic music based on ornithological data, using Java, Max/MSP, and p5.js. They then created an interactive website and art piece using HTML/CSS and Javascript to host live simulations, music videos, and educational readings based on this album. This project was presented as a featured exhibit in the PHREATIC! exhibition on Governor's Island. Bird Ring was initially funded by the NYU Gallatin Undergraduate Research Fund.

Website » PHREATIC! »

Experimental Composition: Stravinsky and Stein

An essay comparing the compositional styles and choices in Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons. Published in Spring 2022.

Online Publication »

Extractive Summarization

Built an extractive summarizer using Python and NLTK, evaluated on ROGUE-1 and ROUGE-L scores. Used the Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons Dataset (CRD3), colleced from 398,682 turns, to generate consice summaries of episodes or shorter scenes. Utilized an Ad-Hoc Information Retrieval system using TF-IDF weights and cosine similarity score that generated sentences to assist Dungeon and Dragons 5th Edition world-building and narrative creation, based on a defined series of user queries.

Paper » Github » Dataset »

Neurological Cirtcuits

Used Hodgkin-Huxley mathematical model of neurons to simulate one neuron in MATLAB. Added synapses, the small gap between neurons where neurotransmitters are released, to connect multiple neurons together. Using the idea that action potentials are either on or off, built logical gates (AND, OR, NOT, XOR) with customizable inputs. Used the biological basis for neural networks to build simple computer hardware, providing insight on the intrinsic interaction between neuroscience and computer science.

Research Paper » Github »

Ctrl 0 · 2019

This piece was performed at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn in 2019. Emma wrote a Processing (Java) program using the concepts of conduction created by Butch Morris. The program conducted live improvisation of a trio of tenor sax, guitar, and accordion. Generated visuals included moving circles, and the density, color, and movement style of these circles directed the style and genre of the instrumentalists' improvisation.

Watch » Github »

Hartford Jazz Society Emerging Artist Showcase · 2020

This video is a collaboration with composer Sawyer Adler. Emma played a improvisatory jazz solo on this piece, and submitted the video to the Hartford Jazz Society Emerging Artist Showcase. Through community voting they were selected as a finalist for this competition and received the honor of performing live in Bushnell Park in Hartford for their annual Paul Brown Monday Night Jazz series.

Watch » Showcase »

Ultraviolet Live · 2020

Ultraviolet Live is an annual NYU wide competition, with a celebrity panel of judges. Emma's group won the grand prize for their performance in 2020. Washington Square News wrote this about their performance and Emma's tenor saxophone solo: "Ryan Jamaal Swain commended the 'genuine respect between each and every one' of the musicians involved, highlighting the 'kick-ss saxophone solo' that made the crowd erupt in applause."

Watch » WSN Article »
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