Networked_Music_Review

Flock: For Saxophone Quartet, Audience Participation, and Video

flock.jpgCreated by Jason Freeman, Flock is a full evening performance work for saxophone quartet, conceived to directly engage audiences in the composition of music by physically bringing them out of their seats and enfolding them into the creative process. During the performance, the four musicians and 60-80 audience members move freely around the performance space. A computer vision system determines the locations of the audience members and musicians, and it uses that data to generate performance instructions for the saxophonists, who view them on wireless handheld displays mounted on their instruments. The data is also artistically rendered and projected on multiple video screens to provide a visual experience of the score.

While the entire performance will draw from a common set of musical motives and visual frameworks, each of several movements will explore different variations on these and use different strategies for responding to the audience. Some movements will focus on the absolute positions of musicians and audience members within the performance space; some will concentrate on the relative distances between audience members and musicians; and others will analyze the overall speed and variations in people’s movements. This data will be used to control the specific pitches, rhythms, and dynamics of the music as well as the overall harmonic and rhythmic stability, tension, density, and regularity. Each musician’s dynamically generated score will incorporate a combination of conventional musical notation, graphical displays, and textual instructions.

The project is a dynamic collaboration between musicians, visual artists, and engineers, led by composer and Georgia Tech music professor Jason Freeman. Freeman is developing the technology for the project in collaboration with Frank Dellaert, a computer science professor at Georgia Tech who specializes in computer vision. Several graduate students are assisting as well: Mark Godfrey (MS, electrical engineering), Dan Hou (PhD, computer science), and Martin Robinson (MS, computer science). Liubo Borissov, a professor at the Pratt Institute in New York, is creating real-time video animation for the performance.

Flock was commissioned by the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, Miami-Dade County’s largest ever public/private-sector partnership and one of the largest arts centers in the United States. It will premiere there during Art Basel / Miami Beach in December 2007 with the Miami Saxophone Quartet.

Flock’s interactive design addresses critical issues in the creative community about the future of classical music in the United States, using technology to eliminate traditional divisions between composition, performance, and listening and to invite participants to collectively create a unique work. Through this unconventional, “hands on” performance experience, Flock will create a meaningful, living connection between artists, musicians, scientists, and audience members. See Wired’s article New Musical Work Treats Audience Like Notes in a Score.


May 3, 2007
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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