Design (refer to typology LINK)
Type: 7- Performative Code and Hacked Bodies. The digital score and its embedded musician idea is defined by the interactivity between the physical movements of a musician, the data streams from tracking technology and the machine’s response.
Digital Syzygies ia a digital score platform for shared creativity with d/Deaf and autistic musicians, that unites creativity and collective involvement in the development of a musical idea. Digital Syzygies used the Emotiv Insight EEG Headset Brain Interface to connect four musicians who were remotely located (in Sweden, Sri Lanka/London, Brighton and Leicester). A specially designed Brainwave-to-Music app allowed the brains of the musicians to dictate the course of musical events, subject to responses measured by six EEG performance metrics: engagement, excitement, focus, interest, relaxation, stress. Each musician contributed samples of sound to a shared library catagorised into the six EEG performance metrics. This digital score allowed individual musicians to ‘plug’ into a composition using the brain reader, and in realtime control the libraries of self-created sound files into music. The results are a shifting collage of different sounds. This could then be either recorded and shared amongst the team, released as an album, or presented in a live performance environment with an instrumentalist reacting to the soundscape and optional visual material.
Further details HERE
Analysis (using the 7 modalities - LINK)
The music idea embedded in Digital Syzygies is immediately communicated through the sense of interconnectivity between the EEG headset wearing individual and to both the Brainwave-to-Music app (APP from hereafter) and the network of other EEG headset wearing musiciansd. Listening is always present in music-making, and a certain amount of supporting/ secondary material is communicated here by this digital score, but not the same stuff as with a traditional music ensemble, especially for those musicians who are D/deaf. The immediate phenomenon of experience evoked by this digital score is through the interconnetcions between the individual and the network.
The sense of being part of a network is primarily responsible for the affectual connections with the musicians. It reaches out and draws in relationships through the following aspects, and in doing so shifts the “sense ratios” and “patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance” (McLuhan, 1964):
- the networked connection between the individual mind and the APP through the EEG readers
- the connection between all the minds plugged into the APP, with each contributing to a flow of data that effects the decision-making process of the APP
- the interplay between the APP and the sound composition, and its presence in making real-time decisions based on the EEG data flow
- the presence of the sound library that each individual contributed to as part of the proto-compositional process, and the anticipation of the choices the APP makes (whose file will be played)
- the feeling of resulting sound collage
The goal of Digital Syzygies is split between the developmental construction phase, and the realisation event. In the developmental construction phase the goal for the musician is to select sound sources that are meaningful to them based on each of the six EEG performance metrics (above).This embeds a individualised sense of ownership with this digital score, and aesthetically contributes to how the work will feel (to them) in the realisation event. In the realisation event, each participating musician should concentrate on the emerging soundscape, and be taken on a journey that they are partly constructing with their unconscious mind and yet are unable to control totally because of the multiple data streams entering the system from other participants.
The primary signals that convey meaning in Digital Syzygies are:
- the sound collage
- the decisions of the APP based on the EEG inputs
- the visualisation of the individuals EEG streams seperated into the six performance metrics
- the presence of the other musicians either in the room or over telematic network (e.g. Zoom)
The language of this digital score is unusual as the individuals contribution is responsive to the decisions of the networked APP, as opposed to interpreting the semiotic codes of notation or visual material. The resulting sound composition/ collage is the primary language that affects such responses, and this evokes both an affectual feeling (primary) and intellectual chatter (secondary) as the individual attempts to rationalise the decisions of the APP.
Feedback for this digital score is both individual and collective. The individual is shown a visualisation of the EEG six performance metrics in realtime. The APP is also verbose with its decision-making process and reports back to the individuals through the python console. The collective feedback is heard through to resulting sound composition. This is a collective (hive) feedback property that is part of a collective ecology of all the agents involved: human musicians, the library construction, the APP’s decision-making algorithms, and the data-streams.
The flow of this digital score is unlike other music-performance scenarios. The flow of this one is like being taken on a journey in which
the individual has influence but not control. It would be easy to underestimate to extent to which the sub-conscious mind has control here,
and what makes this digital score autism friendly: the unconscious mind is “freed to control the course of events and to respond as it will. The role of
the conscious mind is a kind of bemused verification process as part of the feedback.
But it makes no difference to what happens in the music” (Andrew Hugill). Although this may seem passive, it is quite the opposite all the participants “shared the sense of our minds making clear decisions independent of what we were feeling or doing.”