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Subsections

Discussion

As has already been explained, the main issue for etherSound is to allow for unconditioned participation. It comes natural that unconditioned perception should similarly be allowed for. In the first versions of etherSound the message compositions where less dependent on input than what they are in the current version. I was more concerned with the collection of diverse input than I was of giving the contributor a sense of control, or participation. My grounds for letting the messages generate a musical event with a clear form stems from the wish to retain a perceptible connection - even though this connection may only be dismantled by the change in output - between input and output.

The process of designing the analysis and synthesis programs described above is to a considerable extent tantamount with the process of composing in the traditional meaning. In a sense, etherSound is an algorithmic or ruled based composition with stochastic elements, methods which have been explored by many composers for many years. However, there is a great difference between a traditional composition and a work such as etherSoundand in the dimension of time, as the latter does not have a fixed beginning nor an end. An interactive, ongoing and indeterminate, musical creation will inevitably dismantle the traditional idea of musical form. There is nothing new with the ``permanent event'' [Barbosa, 2003] or the infinite musical form - it has been explored by many composers for many years - but it is the effect the indeterminate form has on the understanding and interpretation7 of the work from the point of the participant, and whether the closed form of the message compositions enhance or degenerate this effect, that is my concern. Will a random collection of message compositions, each one with a sense of musical form, generate a large scale (closed) form or will they result in something else, conceptually different from musical form? I believe both is possible and, in this particular case, they are both part of the very core of the artistic intent. It is a question of perspectives. By opening up the form, the listening experience is likewise opened up and a multiplicity of perceptive perspectives becomes possible. This multiplicity is also reflected in the relation between the individual act of participating and the perceptual experience where the individual act can be difficult to discriminate from the totality.

The context of concert performance

etherSound has been used in two different contexts. As a stand alone sound installation that users can interact with but also in combination with one or several improvising musicians playing acoustical instruments. In this situation, which resembles a traditional concert, the audience is 'playing' the electronic instrument and are given an important role in the development of the form. As can be gathered from the description of the system above, the sonic outcome of a received SMS is fairly strictly controlled. On the individual level, only a limited amount of control over detail is offered, and it is debatable whether etherSound can be called an `instrument' at all. This was however never the intention. It is the desire to contribute to the whole that was intended to be the ruling factor, not the individuality of expression or the virtuosity of performance.

An interesting aspect of the concert performance context appears if we compare it to an interactive performance for computer and instrument where the performer influences the output of the computer. In this model the performer and the computer constitute an ontological entity, a closed system that the audience can observe and listen to. However, in etherSound, the computer generated sounds becomes the common ground between the performers and the audience, a sonic field of communication and the audience can no longer be disunited from the content.

Whether or not the participants felt they had influence and whether this influence set creative energies in motion within the participant can only be proved, if at all, by performing empirical studies that are beyond my intentions and competence. I can however offer the lightweight, subjective analysis that improvising along with an audience in a way that can be done with this work, is an experience incomparable to traditional group improvisation.


next up previous contents index
Next: Future improvements and further Up: etherSound - an interactive Previous: The Design   Contents   Index
Henrik Frisk, Malmoe Academy of Music