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ICMC | SMC 2014 Conference Presentation: Making Music with Mobile Phones

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ICMC | SMC 2014 Conference Presentation: Making Music with Mobile Phones

  1. 1. ICMC | SMC 2014 Conference Presentation Can making music with mobile phones become a ubiquitous cultural practice? Nathan Bowen, PhD Moorpark College nbowen@vcccd.edu David Reeder Mobile Sound davidreeder@mobilesound.org
  2. 2. What is a mobile phone, really? • a small, networked computer – ever increasing storage capacity and processing power • combination of several devices – phone, alarm clock, flashlight, camera, ‘walkman’, video player, crossword puzzle… – the ‘app’ marketplace continually redefines what the device is.
  3. 3. How are mobile phones being used? • first, they are ubiquitous • they are deeply imbedded in our lives • they are networked, always on, always close at hand – smart phones have changed the way we think about touch screens, sensors, what phones can do. – We assume certain things when we hold a phone (affordances).
  4. 4. How do you hold a phone?
  5. 5. How do you hold a phone? (It really depends upon function.)
  6. 6. How do you hold a phone when making music?
  7. 7. How do you hold a phone when making music?
  8. 8. How do you hold a phone when making music?
  9. 9. What is the landscape of mobile music today? T. Kell & M.Wanderley, ICMC | SMC 2014 poster
  10. 10. What does this survey tell us? • “The world is a very boring place” • Most ‘music’ apps do not engage user as primary music maker • Most music app instruments are ‘pocket’ versions of existing instruments • Emphasis of mobility and novelty • Still, significant sector that leverage unique qualities of mobile phones (network!) • Potential is there for truly new forms of expression (Gimmicky?)
  11. 11. Can mobile phone performance become a cultural phenomenon? • There exists a compelling body of artistic output and achievement • There exists a steady repertoire of works, in a range of difficulties • Performance virtuosity is rewarded with social status and provides inspiration • Educated listeners are able to tell when a performer messes up Yes, if...
  12. 12. Can mobile phone performance become a cultural phenomenon? • Interface of instrument(s) immediately recognizable and intuitive • Performance practice, at any level of expertise, plays a natural role in community building • Instrument is easy to futz with but challenging to master Yes, if...
  13. 13. What would it take to get there? • General public needs to be convinced of the virtues of mobile musical performance • It must be cool, not gimmicky • Internet opens possibility for new mobile music making to be a grass roots / viral movement • Mobile music likely needs heavy propaganda and marketing from corporations
  14. 14. Historical precedents for sea change in music making • Piano industry (and printed scores) during Industrial Revolution
  15. 15. Historical precedents for sea change in music making • Recording industry disrupted the music industry.
  16. 16. Challenges for mobile music • Mobile phones are disposable. We typically associate instruments as valuable and precious (heirlooms) • Just because everyone has a mobile phone doesn’t mean they’re interested in making music – (not all people like to use their voices to sing) • Sound quality: amplification, timbre • Instrument needs to be carved out from a device normally associated with phone calls • Mobile phones are rapidly evolving. Will phones of future even be physical handheld devices?
  17. 17. What’s next? • Build interoperability – allow apps to co- communicate with one another, share data – Examples already exist in recommendation tools • Your friend’s playlist suggestions in Spotify – Distributed performance • Networked apps need to be easily configurable (zeroconfig) • We propose changes to OSC to lay groundwork for community-based mobile music making
  18. 18. N. Bowen & D. Reeder, ICMC | SMC 2014 poster

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