Composition Station for the Science Museum

the brief

To create a high profile and popular interactive installation in the Digitopolis gallery of the Wellcome Wing which allows up to 4 people to create music together.

the project

The composition station is made of 4 flat touch screens set into a low table. Each touch screen contains one grid or composition space. This grid represents a single instrumental part, is monophonic and has a variable number of notes.

One player controls one grid – via the touch screen. Each player can change their sequence of notes by pressing grid squares. Each player can also control the overall number of notes in their grid, by pressing the plus or minus symbols.

Players can combine different patterns and different pattern lengths – say a pattern of 6 notes against a pattern of 8 notes – to create music in which complexity and beauty emerge from a series of phase relationships.

Each player can see the other players’ grids and can both see and hear how their sequence relates to the others. The installation is designed to encourage a relationship of mutual cooperation between players.

Composition station is a development of a software project called Phase which was created at antirom and used as part of a series of live interactive performances with the string sextet Instrumental. The project is influenced by, and pays homage to the Indonesian Gamelan, the work of Steve Reich and the work of Toshio Iwai.