Share |, Pharrell, Timbaland… step aside! It’s time for the crowd to produce some music

Video courtesy Ibercivis, Vimeo (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

Fermín Serrano, coordinator of Europe’s Socientize project, tells iSGTW about a new collaborative musical experiment…

The website is a participatory experiment launched during the Sónar festival held in Barcelona from 12-14 June. This project has been designed by the Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, Socientize, and Ibercivis, with the help of local hip-hop artists RdeRumba and Mercadal.

Together, we have created an online tool allowing the crowd to reach collective solutions to given problems, in order to gather experimental data in the domains of collective intelligence and musical composition. The online multi-sequencer tool (see image below left) enables participants to create music patterns using their own ideas, as well incorporating parts from their neighbors.

The online multi-sequencer tool. Click for large version. Image courtesy

All participants used the same audio samples and they were synchronized in real time to 90 beats per minute. Participants selected, copied, and re-used rhythms that spread among the network. Initially we used a bidirectional lattice network, whereby each participant could only see their four neighbors. However, as the experiment continued, we later changed the network topology so that everyone was connected to everyone. 

What you see in the video at the top-right of this article is a short section of one of the visualizations of the data collected, with sound created by two different users. In the first graph, each dot represents a participant, with dot size referring to ‘life expectancy’ (any solution not good enough to be selected by other participants could ‘die’ in isolation) and color reflecting the differences between solutions created by neighboring participants. In the second graph, we see how the patterns were copied, creating links and communities among the participants. 

Click for large version. Image courtesy Fermín Serrano.

The pilot experience developed during Sónar culminated in a live session, with the artists performing the music created collectively using the tool. We plan to repeat this experience at various transdisciplinary festivals in Europe, so be sure to watch out for us!


- Fermín Serrano

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