Monday, 3 December 2018

Music Machine 43

Music Machine 43 is a project that I've begun following a call out from Libraries Unlimited for a project called Library Playgrounds.

The first stage is a research and development stage in association with a specific library. I will be working with the staff at St Thomas Library in Exeter to produce my work.

The initial idea for research and development is as follows:

To build a device that will read a barcode from a book or a library card and then play a unique piece of music based on the data provided from the scan.

This device may be a portable / wearable unit with a scanner and headphones that can be taken around the library to explore a variety of books. Alternatively it may be a stand alone unit with speakers or headphones sited in the library, close to the issue / return points. Visitors could then scan their books as they return or issue them.

The unit could be produced in the FabLab using the 3D printers and laser cutter as I have done with earlier machines.

The music that is generated from the barcode scan may be a single line melody or a more complex piece with several voices. It is possible that the user will be able to select a style of piece they wish to hear or it may be random.

As you will appreciate this is a very quick overview of the idea. There are many issues that will be considered, rejected or validated within the research stage. However, the underlying concept will remain constant.

On Wednesday 28th November I had my first meeting and discussion with the Library Manager Lee Rawlings. Lots of ideas were discussed and this presented many new ideas to explore. The main ones were to have a sort of 'bonus ball' book or books where something completely different happens (musically) when it's scanned. Also many thoughts about the design and practicality of the device; at present I'm thinking it will be in the style of an old Geiger counter, with a vu meter in it.

I have arranged to return next Wednesday with some more formal ideas and a basic working model that we can then discuss and plan the next steps before the final proposal is submitted on 17th December.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Music Machine 42

On June 2nd I received an email from Ed Baxter of Resonance FM:

Invitation to Symposium - Speed Reading Exeter
Friday 8 June, 12pm till 5pm, The Workshop, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy St, Exeter EX4 3LS

Dear Simon,
University of Exeter, Arts & Culture, in collaboration with Phonic FM, Exeter, and Resonance FM, London, invites you to participate in a Symposium with a difference. It's fast, it's focused, and it will form the basis of an unusual long-form radio broadcast.
Speed Reading Exeter will bring together academics, artists and creatives from across the city each presenting a single idea in a strictly limited five minute presentation. This presentation could take almost any form but must address in some way the themes of Translation, Transmission and Transference. We're very keen that you are involved. We're not asking for a great deal of your valuable time – and we'll provide refreshments and good company (for as long as you wish to stay, be it five minutes or five hours) as well as a copy of the finished broadcast, due to be broadcast at the end of June.
There is increasing academic interest in using audio to distribute the results of research and to communicate new ideas. There is also a growing audience for intelligent podcasts and with projects like Modulations and The Free University of the Airwaves, Resonance FM has a strong track record of pioneering and popularising academic radio. Resonance's creative director, and the organiser of the Symposium, is Dr Ed Baxter. A BASCA-award winning composer, he currently teaches sound arts and design at UAL, Ravensbourne, and University of Brighton; was co-editor of the complete Works of Thomas De Quincey; has contributed to The Edinburgh Review, Variant, Creative Camera, The Wire and The Guardian; has published the works of 17 th century radicals Gerard Winstanley, Abiezer Coppe and Thomas Tany; and was active as a pre-YBA era installation artist. He's looking forward to welcoming you to Speed Reading Exeter.
The symposium will be broadcast on Resonance FM in London, Resonance Extra in London and Brighton and several community radio stations across the South West of England.
Refreshments will be served.
To book a slot or ask any questions please contact us via email. We very much hope to hear
from you.

In response I produced Music Machine 42. The two key elements of the piece were to last for exactly five minutes and to address the ideas of transmission and transference. To these ends Music Machine 42 consists of twelve four note chords that each sound for 5 seconds. Therefore a complete cycle of the chord progression takes exactly one minute. For the first minute the chords are played by a single instrument and sound from only one speaker. During the second minute a second voice is added. This voice plays a single note of each chord whilst voice one plays the three remaining notes. During the third minute both voices play two notes from each chord, during the fourth voice two plays three notes and voice one a single note. For the final minute voice two plays the chords in full. The piece will be different each time it is played and was originally written using Sonic Pi.

The full Resonance FM programme can be heard here: