“A Participatory Experiment to Watch”

Image Source: Knight Foundation

Image Source: Knight Foundation

The Nonprofit Quarterly discusses the Detroit Symphony’s “Symphony in D” project as part of a broader trend to harness technology to engage communities in arts and culture.

Gone may be the days of the thought that “art is not for me,” as our arts organizations continue to engage audiences through a variety of ways beyond attendance at a museum or gallery. We have expanded our thinking to identify that it is just as important to bring art out into our communities as it is to bring the residents of the community into our venues. The Detroit Symphony is a great model for this, as they are actively involving their community in the creation process in addition to opening the gates of access to their community.

Read the full article: DSO’s “Symphony in D”: A Participatory Experiment to Watch


Lucerne Festival: Fasnacht Adventure

Check out Tod Machover’s post on the official Symphony for Lucerne blog about his recent Fasnacht adventure, during the annual carnival festival that overtakes the usually calm Swiss city. Here’s an excerpt. Read the entire breathtaking story here.

I had been prepared for the spectacle and the wild masks, but was totally blown away by the diversity of costumes for each group, the individual care that had been taken to create the theme and then the identity for each group and float, and by the fierceness of the musical performances, pounding bass drum and blaring brass, punctuated by many overlapping loudspeaker systems playing wild music both very familiar and extremely strange. The force of the music, the loud chatter of the crowd, the squeals of children, and the sustained energy for almost three hours, contributed a powerful, edgy sound which I had never heard before in Lucerne, and was quite unique in any case…

My favorite thing to do during Fasnacht was to keep walking, zigzagging through tiny streets, along the river, by the lakeside, over the bridges, up the hills to the city walls, and back down again to the Reuss. By doing this, I could make my own mix (and record it on my binaural digital audio recorder) of the contrasting rhythms from different Guggenmusik bands, dive into the middle of chaos where multiple rhythms and chords could be heard at once, or climb to a high promontory where the blend of the – literally – hundreds of different sound sources became somewhat gentle and dreamlike, reminding me of something that my compatriot Charles Ives might have imagined….

Here is “Fasnacht Fantasy” on the Sinfonie für Luzerne’s Soundcloud:

Sneak peak at Symphony in D

Here’s a fun piece on Detroit’s WDIV TV on ‪#‎symphonyind‬. Hear a bass trombone sound like a car’s accelerator, hear Henry Ford’s first engine, and hear the TV announcer speculate on what the sound of a DRIVER might be on landing in one of Detroit’s ubiquitous potholes!

Watch the video here.

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How you can collaborate on the symphony?

We would love to hear from all you Detroiters out there!  It’s easy to send in sounds:

  • Just download the “Symphony In D” app, record a sound and send it. The app, Symphony In D, is available for free download now in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

You may also email each sound you record in an separate to detroit@media.mit.edu. Include your name, email, recording location, and any relevant details about your sound in your message.

Detroit’s “Symphony in D” app now available

From Click On Detroit

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The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), in partnership with Tod Machover at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, released two free apps that allow citizens of Detroit and metropolitan locals to submit sounds and personalized mixes to the Symphony in D project.

The mobile app, Symphony In D, is available for free download now in the Apple App Store and on Google Play…Using the Constellation app, designed by Media Lab graduate student Akito van Troyer, users can explore the most recent sounds collected and combine them into personal mixes…

The DSO is the first American orchestra to work with Machover on a collaborative symphony.  He has completed similar projects in Toronto, Canada; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Perth, Australia.

Read more here.



Discovering the sounds of Detroit

From the Knight BlogA new, collaborative symphony, led by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Tod Machover of the MIT Media Lab and funded by Knight, is taking shape in the Motor City. Below, Machover, who is gathering sounds from the people of Detroit to shape the piece, writes about his work. A version of this post was originally published at SymphonyinD.com.

The Symphony in D project records sounds with the students of Detroit’s YouthVille.

The Symphony in D project records sounds with the students of Detroit’s YouthVille.

…a surprising number of sounds I am hearing about are private, personal, idiosyncratic and simply full of life. Everyone seems to have their own favorite bar with a typical buzz, a preferred neighborhood walk, an admired deco skyscraper or earlier-than-deco factory – still in use, converted to other purposes, or waiting for new life. I was able to experience a pretty wide range of Detroit experiences on this last visit, from the overlapping sounds and stories at the Meridian Winter Blast to a 24-hour dance-a-thon in East Village to raise money for the Sister Pie Bakery. Detroit is not only friendly; it is also a city of incredible individualists, and I feel very fortunate to be starting to hear many of your stories and sounds.

We are really interested in working with anyone and any group in Greater Detroit to help find the most beautiful sounds to share and most significant stories to tell, so please visit us atSymphonyinD.com or contact us at detroit@media.mit.edu if you’d like to participate.

Read the full Knight Blog post here.

I hear Lucerne – Episode 3

Tod’s third post on the I Hear Lucerne blog is up! He brings you inside his journey to explore the Swiss city of Lucerne. From his visit, several themes begin to emerge. Tod also describes an extraordinary workshop involving the people of Lucerne and three very different artists:

That same afternoon, we presented a workshop at the KKL to demonstrate howEine Sinfornie fûr Luzern is developing. I reminded the audience of the basic premise for the project, demonstrated the new Höre Luzern / Hear Lucernemobile app that makes it easy to record and share sounds from the city, and played some of my favorite sounds – from cows to yodels to ship horns to fountains – that have been contributed so far. Then we tried an experiment, to see if we could “translate” real sounds from the city into “music.” Since the Piano Festival was in session, I asked that we find three open-minded and creative pianists from different musical backgrounds to participate. We were extremely fortunate to be able to work with Anita Schaufelberger, Michael Mahnig, and Leo Tardin. They couldn’t have been more wonderful to work with. For each of them, I played one of three “sound dreamscapes” I had prepared based on a certain type of sonic material from Lucerne: Water, Bells and Voices respectively. After we – myself, the pianists and the assembled audience – listened to each of the ca. 1-minute collages, I asked one of the pianists to reinterpret the recorded sounds and to create the same sound and feel on the acoustic piano.

You can read the full blog post and watch workshop video footage here.