Timothy Roth Headshot

Timothy Roth

Research Assistant


Timothy Roth is completing a Masters in Music Performance at the University of Toronto under Aiyun Huang and Beverley Johnston. Tim completed a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance at the University of Manitoba, where he graduated with the medal for the highest standing in his class. During his time at the University of Manitoba, he completed the requirements for a double major in Music History, with research focusing on analysis and evolution of vocal flow in rap music. Tim has presented his research on rap music at the Music Theory Midwest 2019 conference, the IASPM-Canada 2019 conference, and as a guest lecturer at the University of Manitoba. Tim has also presented his research on the percussion music of Karlheinz Stockhausen at the 2019 Transplanted Roots Percussion Research Symposium in Guanajuato, Mexico. Tim is interested in popular music, the history of electroacoustic music, and interactive multimedia performance. His graduate studies are supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship program, and the Manitoba Arts Council.


Music on a Long Thin Wire - Alvin Lucier

As part of an ongoing project documenting older works for live electronics, Tim Roth put on Alvin Lucier’s sound sculpture Music On a Long Thin Wire (1980). The work involves using a magnet to drive a wire stretched across the stage while an oscillations at different frequencies are driven through it. The work was shown at MacMillan Theatre at University of Toronto on December 11, 2022.

Remote Percussion Training Yields Effective Improvement and Student Satisfaction

This study compared the effectiveness of in-person and remote (virtual) musical training in percussion by measuring motor output, performance quality, and student satisfaction. Using videoconference technologies such as Zoom may help reduce accessibility barriers to in-person music training (Biasutti et al., 2021, Lancaster, 2007). The inherent visual expressivity of percussion performance is ideal to study the effectiveness of remote musical training (Hartenberger, 2016, Schutz & Lipscomb, 2007)
Poster from The Space Between Conference at McMaster University, April 29-30 2022

Mikrophonie I Dual Fader Filter

Sonic Canvas

Sonic Canvas is a multidisciplinary digital improvisation performed by visual artist Jasmine Tsui and music technologist Tim Roth.

The work uses a colour-retrieval patch created in Max, a visual programming language, to generate information about the size and location of colour on a screen.

The performers negotiate the sound world together: the artist creates illustrations on the iPad illustration app Procreate that set command values, and the technologist scales these values and assigns them to different parameters of a synthesizer. Unlike traditional collaboration between musician and artist, the artist now has first-person control over all the sounds produced.

Video information from the iPad can be transmitted to the Max patch over the internet, resulting in a work that is best consumed digitally and adheres to social distancing guidelines.

This project can accommodate numerous digital artists from a variety of mediums and has much room for expansion.

The Theatre of Schizophonic Performance in John Cage’s Cartridge Music

John Cage’s Cartridge Music (1960) was one of the first works to break the acousmatic tradition of electronic music by incorporating live performers. Where, in acoustic performance, gesture and sound are typically concatenated, performance with live electronics makes this link less immediate and at times inscrutable. This alienation of sound from performative gesture, described by R. Murray Schafer as “schizophonia,” creates a unique theatrical scenario (Schafer 1969). In the liner notes for the first recording of the work, Cage wrote that one of his objectives was “to make a theatrical situation involving amplifiers and loudspeakers and live musicians” (Cage 1962d). Although the work developed into one of Cage’s most flexible compositions, there are a number of restrictions in the score that limit the theatrical potential of the electronic framework. We propose to perform a historically-informed version of Cartridge Music for four musicians with a number of modifications to Cage’s original framework. We created hand-held versions of the phono and piezo pickups which allows us to assemble a diverse array of sounding objects for producing “auxiliary sounds.” We suspended a number of these instruments, expanding the performance frame beyond the typical tabletop setting of the piece. The results of these modifications are twofold. First, the sonic palette is significantly expanded. Along with additional “auxiliary sound” objects, freestanding contact microphones and pickups allow for creative variation in the placement and usage of the sensors which contributes a significant textural and timbral depth. Second, incorporation of the pickups as implements and extension of the performance frame unfetters the performing bodies, opening up the piece as a more dynamic theatrical vehicle. In this way, our interpretation refines Cage’s goal of creating theatricality in a live electronic environment while maintaining the integrity of the original framework.

Group Projects

compound. oblique. transverse.

compound.transverse.oblique. explores concepts of fragility and fracture through simple electronic instruments built with Arduino microcontrollers and percussion instruments.

The Arduino instrument’s exposed circuitry presents a vulnerable and fragile aesthetic that became the central focus of the composition.

Throughout the work frail sounds dissolve as delicate textures breakdown and snap under pressure, creating an abstract composition that is intense and unpredictable.

compound. uses simple speaker electronic instruments that are extremely precarious both in their playability and its sound. Two percussionists coerce cracks, whispers, and buzzy screeches by scraping amplified coins across Almglocken while one percussionist plays a large woodblock with a vibra bullet and another rips large pieces of paper.

In oblique. a single timpano is used as a resonator for the Arduino electronic instrument speaker and the performer’s voices. Multiple percussionists perform overtone singing into the drumhead and manipulate its tension to create a delicate polyphony between humans and machine.

transverse. is characterized by electronic and acoustic sounds that are melted down and synthesized to create a bright, sharp timbre. Pitches begin in unison and gradually shift by microtones to illustrate harmonic cracks and fractures.

Three Roses

Three Roses is a quartet for percussion, incorporating two technological devices to give the performers control over lighting and sound design. First is the MUGIC, a gestural sensor developed by violinist Mari Kimura, which you can see on each of the players’ hands. Second is the Arduino which controls the lights, and through the software Max MSP can respond to the gestures of the performers captured by the MUGIC. This piece was commissioned by Aiyun Huang for the TaPIR lab in the early stages of COVID, and as such has gone through multiple iterations from live concert performance, to remote collaboration, and eventually settled as an in person recording project.


For Mari’s MUGIC workshop, Tim composed a piece for bell tree and mark tree. This piece uses MUGIC, attached to the hand of the performer, to track the playing motion of these two instruments and manipulate parameters of pitch shifting, filtering, and delay.






Click here for more information on TaPIR Lab’s MUGIC workshop with Mari Kimura


These four lab members (Tyler Cunningham, Timothy Roth, Joyce To, and Jasmine Tsui) were living together at the time of the workshop, so they opted to work as a group. They added a second breadboard to one Arduino Uno, making for a total of eight buttons. The buttons on one breadboard controlled pitches that blinked on and off at regular intervals, and the buttons on the second breadboard controlled the speed of the pitches. They built a second, similar instrument and performed with one person on each breadboard. The quartet performed a three-part étude featuring different styles. The first part featured a shifting melody-accompaniment relationship between instrument pairs; the second part generated musical ideas using time signature 7/8; the third part explored the instrument’s timbral extremes.