CoSiMa has participated at the Sonar+D international conference on creativity and technology of the Sonar music festival in Barcelone with a Sonar Innovation Challenge. A team of 5 musicians, designers, and developers – formed over a month before the event – has worked two and a half days on a music application dedicated to a public interacting collaboratively through their smartphones. The web-based application has been developed with the Soundworks framework.
The resulting application is Weather, a performance for a DJ and a public participating through their smartphones. As usual in performances based on the Soundworks framework, participants connect their smartphones to the local CoSiMa Wi-Fi network and visit the web page of the Weather application. Once connected to the application, the participants can play with four gestures to switch between different weather states that are associated to different sound textures and visualizations generated on their mobile devices: (1.) Touching the screen generates the bird chirps of a sunny afternoon, (2.) swaying and tilting the device generates wind, (3.) shaking it softly generates a rain sound and rain drops on the screen, and (4.) shaking it harder generates thunder sounds and lightning on screen.
The sound generated by the participants creates a sound textures distributed over the audience. The current weather states of all clients are collected on the server to generate a weather profile that controls visuals on a public display and environmental sounds on the PA. In addition, the weather profile is interpreted by a DJ playing live electronic music in dialog with the audience’s sound textures.
The five CoSiMa SIC challengers who developed the Weather performance are Matthew Bethancourt, Andrés Ferraro, JP Carrascal, Chaithanya Jade, and Yuli Levtov.
CoSiMa participated at the Music Tech Fest in Berlin with a workshop « Hack the Audience » featuring the Soundworks framework. In two days, mai 26 and 27, we developed two performances in which the audience participates with their smartphones : MTF Orgy and GrainField. In both performances, the audience connects their smartphones to the CoSiMa Wi-Fi network and visits a given webpage to participate.
In MTF Orgy, each participant controls the intensity and detuning of two harmonics of a distributed additive synthesizer – the Orgy organ – by tilting their smartphone. The lower harmonics are generated on the PA and the higher ones on the participant’s mobile devices. A musician on stage plays chords on a MIDI keyboard that determine the fundamental frequencies. Other musicians can join the performance. At the MTF performance, we were accompanied by Steve Lawson on the bass.
In GrainField the smartphones enable the participants to play with the granular synthesis of 2 secs of sound recorded from a percussionist sitting in the middle of the audience (see images below). The system records every second 2 secs of sound that are send to the smartphones of the audience so that the sound a participant plays with changes every 8 seconds. The sound generated by the participant’s smartphones can be perceived as a distributed granular echo of the percussionist’s performance without any other amplification.
In addition, we presented the CoSiMa project in a brief talk and performance with the audience playing birds and drops on their smartphones.
Norbert Schnell presented the CoSiMa project at Ableton’s Loop Summit for Music Makers. During the presentation, the audience performed with various CoSiMa prototype applications using their smartphones.
So there we went! Together with the WAVE project — the IRCAM Web Audio library on which most of the things we do is based on, see also wavesjs on GitHub) —, we presented our ongoing research and projects. In particular, we took advantage of this event to test a new collaborative experience that would premiere at Fête de la musique (see Chloé × Ircam). With more that 130 connections, it confirmed that we were on the right track for the show! We also got a lot of positive feedback from the JS community on the technologies we are developing.
The slides of the presentation are available here.
At the first international Web Audio Conference (WAC’15), CoSiMa presented three pieces of work.
Collective Sound Checks (poster)
Just like at TEI’15 the week before, we presented our work on the Collective Sound Checks through the poster you can see below. Quite a lot of people gathered at our booth during the demo session to play with the web apps and create spontaneous collective performances.
Soundworks (paper & poster)
Finally, we presented the first public representation of Drops, a collective smartphone performance built with Soundworks. Drops is strongly inspired by the mobile application Bloom by Brian Eno and and Peter Chilvers, and transposes it into a collaborative experience: each participant can only play a single sound (i.e. a single pitch), whose timbre can vary depending on the touch position. Together, the players can construct sound sequences (i.e. melodies) by combining their sounds. The sounds are repeated in a fading loop every few seconds until they vanish. Players can clear the loop by shaking their smartphones. The sounds triggered by one player are automatically echoed by the smartphones of other players. The collective performance on the smartphones is accompanied by a synchronized soundscape on ambient loudspeakers. This first Drops representation gathered around 60 players at the WAC.
CoSiMa submitted a Work-in-Progress paper at the Tangible and Embedded Interfaces conference held at Stanford University in January 2015 (TEI’15). The paper Collective Sound Checks — Exploring Intertwined Sonic and Social Affordances of Mobile Web Applications describes the mobile-web scenarios we tested at the Centre Pompidou with the Studio 13/16, and explores how these new forms of musical expression strongly shift the focus of design from human-computer interactions towards the emergence of computer-mediated interactions between players based on sonic and social affordances of ubiquitous technologies.
We presented our work during the poster session, and we got a lot of attention from the conference attendees: people had a lot of fun playing with the CoSC Web Applications and We Will Rock You: Reloaded, were impressed by the work done, and are looking forward to the upcoming developments.