June 22, 2009
The Hidden Fourth Dimension of Music
I’m picking up on a musical meme — probably an old one, but new to me.
Start with this nice NYT write-up of a piece of music composed for long, curving lines of trombone players — 89 in all! — surrounding the listener.
Cross-reference with the new physical electronica — and the argument that real sound sources, placed creatively in space, create an effect not replicable by any speakers, no matter how slick.
In an era when anybody can crank out music in stereo that doesn’t sound half-bad, how do you distinguish yourself? The same way the movie studios are doing it, of course: add a dimension.
So now, I want the home version: How about an iPhone app that plays a composition on many phones simultaneously, networked via BlueTooth, and requires you to place them strategically around a space to get the full effect. Maybe dynamic performance instructions flash on-screen: “Run forward!” or “Muffle this phone with your shirt!”
If the app knew the relative locations of the iPhones — (you, as a user, could probably give it some clues) — the sound could swish and pan from phone to phone, in a sort of super-amorphous surround sound.