Henrik Frisk, saxophonist, photo by Karl-Martin Almqvist.

About etherSound

etherSound is an interactive sound installation controlled by SMS messages send from cellular phones over the GSM network. It is an effort to move the initiative of making sounds from the composer/musician to the listener. The great advantage with using cellular phones in this context is that participation can take place anywhere and participation can be anonymous and private.

The text message is analyzed in a non-syntactical way. Deliberately there is no obvious correlation between the text and the sounds the text generates - etherSound should be equally accessible to all participants regardless of prior knowledge of music or of the specific system. However, a longer and more complex message will result in a more varied sound object than will a short message. The number of messages received over time, as well as their relative complexity, will affect the sonic space, not only in the way new sound objects are constructed but also through manipulation of previous (still sounding) objects. No new messages will eventually lead etherSound to silence.

Though etherSound may be performed in a number of different ways, the two contexts in which it has been tried most extensively are as:

  • a standalone instrument that can be played through the sending of SMS. The act of creative participation is the main focus and the accumulated efforts by all participants will have long term effects on the sonic space.
  • a context for improvisation where one or several musicians improvise with etherSound which the audience controls through the sending of SMS messages.
The sounds are all generated in real time, except for sampled voice excerpts from the questions and answers session following one of American composer John Cage's lectures at Harvard College in USA 1989.


Below is a list of papers and other documents written about etherSound.

Please see here for more texts by Henrik Frisk.