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About Diana Dabby

Areas of Interest: electrical engineering, music, art and science, chaos theory, musical variation.
Dr. Dabby's research interests revolve around design at the interface of art and science via electrical engineering (signals and systems, nonlinear dynamics, chaos, acoustics) and Music (composition, musical variation, theory, performance).
Project in chaos theory and music: A chaotic mapping provides the engine for making musical variations of an original work. Based on a natural mechanism for variability found in the science of chaos, this variation technique employs two chaotic trajectories that map the pitch sequence of a musical score into a variation based on the pitch events of a given piece. The variations can be close to the original, diverge from it substantially, or achieve degrees of variability between these two extremes. The technique can serve as an idea generator or as a springboard for a dynamic music where a work can change from one hearing to the next-not in random ways-but rather by musical choice. The technique does not generate music nor any other kind of data as random events; rather, it creates a rich set of variations on an already completed piece or sequence of symbols.
Up to now, the variation technique utilized only the pitch sequence of an original work. The goal is to extend the variation technique to include rhythm as well.
Project in chaos theory and image: More generally, the technique can take any sequence of context-dependent symbols as input (e.g., parsed pixel sequences from scanned art work, word sequences from prose or poetry, textural sequences requiring some intrinsic variation), and produce a virtually infinite number of variations.
This project applies the chaotic mapping to imagery in order to create any number of variations of a given picture.
Project in Music and Letters: Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), a Russian composer and noted chemist, wrote some of the most memorable music of the late 19th century. He also authored 40 journal papers from 1858 (the year he defended his thesis) until 1886 (two years before his death at 54). He championed the educational rights of women in Russia, organizing the higher medical courses for women at the Medical-Surgical Academy in St. Petersburg. Yet many of Borodin's letters to colleagues remain untranslated from Russian to English, depriving scholars, theorists, and performers a fuller picture of a man revered for his generosity, talents, and good will. Dr. Dabby is supervising the work of an Olin undergraduate and native Russian speaker who is translating letters spanning Borodin's life.


Present Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Music, Olin College of Engineering
Present Music Program Director, Olin College of Engineering

Curriculum Vitae

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  • Olin Conductorless Orchestra
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Wired Ensemble