Bitsphere's Weblog

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Rule based live music

note_symbol“Audible/Inaudible 2012 -2014”

During the last two years Bitsphere performed an anonymous rule based live piece at a local bar which lies at the entry of the inner city when coming from the Bitsphere office. The piece for piano consists of some rules which will be listed in the next paragraph. The piece described here originated in a spontaneous idea and is an example of artistic intervention in everyday live. With the description of this peace and possible impacts Bitsphere likes to invite others to accoustic involvement in shared living spaces.

The rule set

  1. Every day the player passes the bar he has to enter and play the next tone on a chromatic scale beginning at the lowest note if all the rules apply
  2. The player should play only if he passes alone
  3. The player should be in a proper state for working according to governmental working rules
  4. The Piano shall be unoccupied
  5. No other musician shall play in the bar at the time
  6. Nothing should be purchased when entered to play a tone

Performance

By applying this rules it was possible to play all the keys of the grand piano within two years. The bar is usually closed Sunday and Monday but opens early in the morning and does not close before midnight. In the summer time sometimes they close in the afternoon to move to an outdoor location some paths away. Bitsphere only once had the chance to play the tone there (this tone was doubled) when some band installed a keyboard over there.

Observations

After a while some of the frequenter where aware that Bitsphere had a certain regulatory and they started to interact after the tone was played. One occasionally applauded and it is quite sure he sort of realized what was going on though Bitsphere tried to hide which means a visitor who only heard one of the tones should have thought there is someone just hitting a key for whatever reason. In general the relation to the waiters was relaxed randomly they tried to sell a beer to Bitsphere after the tone had gone. But this did not apply to rule #6.

Due to rule #2 the piece passed relatively anonymously there were no one told what was going on. It was just like entering – acting – listening – leaving and this kind of loneliness when inserting a sound to the daily noises with a melody only aware to one person in the beginning let to certain reflections about music which may not come easy in other ways. The difference in the player – the spectators – and even the tuning of the piano over the time is observed.

The player in his inner state – sometimes resisting to play though the rules do all apply – sometimes wanting to advance even if one ore more rule is not fulfilled has to remember over the whole span which note has to played at the next occasion which sometimes takes a little longer to come. The spectators were divided in two groups: Some not aware that this is a piece of music as just another one presses one of the keys of the piano, some aware there is someone who comes back regularly to play just one note on the piano which was at least tuned one time over the two years.

What is next?

After this piece Bitsphere wants to do more live events and perhaps faster rule based performances. Please drop some words in the comment box if you have experience in rule based live music or any other thing to say! You may also name some rules here and Bitsphere will try to perform them!

 


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Non deterministic or rule based music

What is rule based art?

Non deterministic art has been around quite a while. In the recent decades it started to break out from modern art museums via computer games while inserting itself into business under the name gamification. Rule based art has many forms of appearance.  Be it a painting which is made of several pieces which can be moved by the spectator or an installations which depends on various influences like the sound of this windharp embedded in a natural environment. In this post Bitsphere likes to share some insights into the basics of rule based music creation.

Rules and interconnections

Out of very few rules are generally a lot of possible combinations arising. Imagine the action of driving a car: There are few possibilities: left – right – forward – backward – fast – slow. By applying these rules you may reach more places than you would have time to in a lifetime.

If the driver lined up all his decisions by this rules to describe his way from home to the grocery store it would go like: forward 10m – right 90° – forward 500m – right 75° – forward 400m – left 100° – forward 45m. It is clear that only one alteration in the description led to another outcome (the car stops at the gas station for example) and if altering two or more decisions led to a completely other outcome (the car ends up in a holiday resort abroad).

What we also may keep in mind is that there might be other ways to get to the grocery store. Which says that another application of the rules leads to the same outcome.

Example of rule based music construction

To give you a short example of how to work with rules here is a sample piece of music which is based on two rules:

  1. In each bar the note is shifted up by a third in the diatonic scale (and transposed to a certain range)  g – h – d – f – a – c – e – g
  2. The rhythm in each bar corresponds to a digital number 000001, 00000010, 000000011, 00000100, etc. If there appears a 1 in the number there is sound and if not there is none.

That is how the first eight bars look like in classical score:

Variation II for blog.-2

This is how it sounds like:

If you have anything to say about ruled based art and music – may it be a link to a resource or your personal opinion – drop me a line!