This work is an experimental research project on the possible popularization of a form of interactive music that reacts to body movements. The core project is the development of a software that allows players to experience such music in their own homes (or any other place of their choice). The related tasks were research, concept, interaction design, composition, sound design, user interface design, programming and testing. The platform of the application is Apple iPhone. The software should be released via the Apple App Store in early 2021.
I have already worked on two projects with body-sensitive music. So far they have always been presented as installations, i.e. in an exhibition context. This had the advantage that I had the greatest possible control over the surrounding conditions, such as the design of the room, the installation, sound system, etc. When I was on site during the exhibition, it was very interesting to observe the reactions of the visitors and talk to them about it.
However, there were also some disadvantages in my opinion. Mostly, I had doubts about the exclusivity of the exhibition situation, where the installation is only accessible for a few days at a certain location. I also suspect that visitors behave differently in an exhibition than in a private situation. (I tried to cushion this effect by restricting the visit to one visitor at a time, unless otherwise desired).
For these reasons, I decided to create a new work that not only advances my research in this area, but shifts the experience from semi-public space to private. Ideally, this means a bigger audience with more freedom of experience.
In terms of content, this work should explore further possibilities of responding musically to body movements and forms. The decisive input parameter of my previous work was the intensity of the players’ movements. The musical response to this was various rhythms, partly generated by algorithms. In this work, I want to focus primarily on the possibilities of tonal feedback.
This project shares one common ground with my earlier work: the feedback is exclusively auditory; there is no further visual feedback. The goal is to focus on the tonal experience in connection with body movement. (There is, however, the possibility to record a video of a performance). It is not meant to be a “new instrument” which can be perfectly controlled but should rather open a room of possibilities for interactions and highly subjective interpretation.
The title “Affine Tuning” is inspired by the concept of affinity, which has slightly different meanings in different fields of expertise, but generally refers to an inclination, similarity or desire for convergence. “Tuning” of course refers to the tuning of an instrument. But in German — my mother tongue — the direct translation “Stimmung” also refers to the current state of mind, or can describe an emotional quality of an artistic expression. In addition, one can “tune in” to something in order to behave in a similar or corresponding way. In the concrete case of interactive music, my ideal is that the composer, system and player tune in to open up a space for a sonic and physical experience that is ephemeral but leaves a lasting impression. And it is not by chance that the name is homophonic to “A Fine Tuning”, because this in turn describes quite well the balance between interactivity and artistic expression which I have to find in designing the system.