For this project, we were asked to explore the possible relationship between sound and interaction. Personally I also sought to explore the relationship between people in the context of interaction design.
Having chosen the social-interaction direction, I wanted to create something that only could be experienced when you are physically at the same location. My first thought was the exercise of playing in a band and jamming together, where something (in this case music) only exists when multiple people create something together. This idea of an experience created only by collectively acting upon it became the central idea of this project.
As a basis for my experience, I soon realized the project needed to be easy enough to experience with minimal tools or previous expertice. My solution was to utilize the mobile phones we all carry with us everywhere all the time as an instrument in what was to become The Virtual Orchestra™
In C by Terry Riley
Starting from my admiration of artists like Brian Eno, I began researching musical principles like generative music and what is known as systems music, where musical compositions is built upon systems which functions more like a process than concrete instructions about what notes to play when etc. Typical system music include works like Discreet Music by Brian Eno or compositions by Steve Reich.
Upon further research, I found the composition In C by Terry Riley which bases it’s output on 53 distinct musical phrases, which are to be played by a musical ensamble of arbitary size. This piece is defined as a generative social product, whereas the earlier examples leans more towards generative methods. If you want, you can listen to some of the many recordings of In C, like the first recording or this amazing african version.
One of the key concepts in this piece is the process with which the music is produced. With this piece, there are certain rules the musicians are meant to follow:
- All 53 phrases shall be played in sequence
- Any number of any kind of instrument can play
- Any musician is free to continue repeating the current phrase or move on to the next phrase
- Though there’s no limitation, each musician should strive to stay within 2-3 phrases of each other. This is to keep the narrative of the piece running