Publishing music as a living eco system

As a member of Barefoot Records, I am fortunate to be part of a vibrant and inspiring environment of excellent improvisers and composers. This is an environment of people, who – as improvisors – see music as something that is susceptible to immediate changes in the surroundings; these are artists that are challenging the mainstream understanding of music, both from within, – in the internal logic of musical forms – and from without, – in the way music is presented and the way it interacts with its audience.

Being part of this collective of musicians, with their steady production of albums and concerts, has given me a strong impulse – and a forum – to question the way music is published and distributed.

The fact is that although in these time we have an ocean of new opportunities to create interaction and context dependency in the digital media, the record industry is still stuck in a linear, closed format when publishing music. Whether we are talking downloads or streaming, the end result is still the same kind of linear, black boxed product that we have seen since the first recording technologies in the beginning of the 20th century.

Since when did we accept the idea about music as a static product, immune to the context in which it is experienced? We want to challenge that! We want to develop a new form of publication which is taking the vibrant liveliness of music, that we know from the concert, and bring it to the everyday experience of music, – in the headphones, the living room, and wherever people choose to listen to music.

This project unfolds in three stages:

  1. A living work
    This is a pilot phase, where the goal is to create a work which, depending on the time, place and other variables at the moment, will sound different every time you listen to it. It is a collaboration between composers and musicians from Barefoot Records.
    The work developed in MaxMSP and published and distributed to the desktop.
    Read about the living album here, and join us in its development
  2. Naked Toe (working title)
    Following the evaluation of feedback from users and creators the project continues in an operational phase, where we develop a series of living works
    This phase opens up  for a number of collaborations where we can curate works by other composers and musicians. It is a platform which also allows for the (re) release of music that has never been suitable for the linear formats – there is a treasure of open form works waiting to find the right format of publishing.
    This phase will involve visual artists and designers, and we can collaborate on releasing works in the form of living sound sculptures.
  3. The big picture
    We want to challenge the way people listen and relate to music. In this phase, the task is to develop an app and / or browser-based platform, where users can experience the live plants and record “live” versions which they can comment and share with other users

The first two phases of the project will unfold within the format of artistic research, and the funding will most likely come from national art funds and private funding .

The third phase will need a good deal of financialisation, and the model for this phase is the tech startup. A lot of funding is possible for this format, and the success of the phase is depending on the results and experiences in the first two steps.

It’s alive!! – a collaborative “living album”

Did you ever wonder why live music is so much more exciting than listening to music in your living room? Isn’t it partly because the music you download from iTunes or stream from Spotify is exactly the same each time you listen to it? No surprises!

Recorded music just keeps repeating the same old patterns not caring about who is listening, when, where and how often. Just like some halfway autistic aunt who babbles about herself for hours, not aware that everyone else is sick and tired of listening to the same stories over and over again.

Barefoot Records is a collective of improvisors and composers, who are very active on the Danish music scene. As a  proud part of this collective, I have engaged in a journey that will explore ways of challenging the way we publish and distribute music.

Read about the project here: Publishing music as a living eco-system

First step in this journey is to develop a “living album”. This is a pilot project, and we – the artists at Barefoot Records – are inviting you to collaborate!

You might have heard about crowdfunding? Would you like to be part of a crowdsourcing experiment? You are hereby invited to take part in a collaboration, where anyone on the Web can pitch in with ideas in a creative effort to break new ground in the way we listen to and conceive of music!!

This is how it works:

  1. The Barefoot artists are recording a series of improvisations. In each take a single musician is improvising freely.
  2. The takes, – let’s call them soundscapes –  are released on soundcloud.com, please visit the set here.
  3. On Soundcloud, you can comment on the soundscapes, in the sound itself. For each comment, we open a small discussion, and we can add links to other comments, thus building conceptual connections between different parts of the soundscapes. Please share your comments about the improvisations, giving special attention to
    1. what images/ambiences/atmospheres/landscapes do the soundscapes evoke? Where are the aesthetic bridges between the soundscapes? Which parts match, and how? This will help us build banks of sounds, that we can combine in different ways, according to the musical imagery they evoke.
    2. how do you perceive the overall forms of the improvisations? If you consider each improvisation as a narrative, what is the form of the story? These analyses will give us some macro-forms to use when programming the generic structural elements of the album.
    3. imagine that you are listening to the final “living album”. The sounds will combine according to the above mentioned banks of sound and the macro-forms, in a way that is dependent on what happens at the specific time and place where you listen. In which way would it make sense for the sounds to interact with your environment? When programming the album, we can play with time, place, and we can connect with the computer’s “sensors”, i.e. camera, microphone, as well as streams of data from the Internet.
  4. After this process of crowdsourcing, of co-creating the collective living work of sound art, composer Casper Hernández Cordes will compile sounds, forms and interaction patterns in a living album, an application, that you can download for free. Every time you open the application on your computer, you will hear new pieces.
  5. The app will enable you to save the pieces, and you are invited to upload them to soundcloud. There, you will comment on the piece, and on the living album, sharing your experiences with the community of co-creators.

How about that? Click here, and you can participate! Join us! Comment! Share! Create!