InterActivity1-Toward a new concert experience

In 2002, I watched The Map by Tan Dun in awe. The video playback of Chinese folk
music interwoven with live performance was sublime and opened up so many possibilities for a new mode of performance. I decided to devote my creative energies to both music and video so I could write similar compositions. Since that time, I have gathered considerable new media skills and experiences and have worked toward a marriage between my music and video.

Last year, I wrote a movement for my percussion piece, In Memoriam: Gérard Grisey, which called for audience participation coordinated through video instruction. While audiences experience a concert together, this last movement deconstructed the audience/performer expectations and the audience shared the act of performance. I feel that audiences want to understand complex music through more involvement and the reaction to this movement was tremendous. The participation elevated the concert experience and audience members enthusiastically kept up with the asymmetrical rhythms as instructed on the screen. I was encouraged to continue these efforts.

In preparation for a new interactive piece/game that features a quartet of live musicians  and video called InterActivity1, I did research to define successful interactive pieces.  I started with watching bouncing ball sing alongs like In My Merry Oldsmobile (oh my) from 1932 and then studied user interface designs of  popular interactive games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.  I also studied great performers like the completely analog (!) Bobby McFerrin who is a master at call and response interactions.  He levels up audience expectations by manipulating speed and complexity(youtube=

I also discovered a very exciting group of interactive artists who connect with viewers in news ways using the lastest in multimedia technology.  While not all use sound in their pieces, I am really excited about the work of the following artists.  More soon!

Brian Knep – Deep Wounds

This video gives a great overview of this project created for Memorial Hall at Harvard University.   Participants walk across a floor to reveal names of Harvard graduates who are not listed in the hall since they died fighting for the South in the Civil War.  Not only do I love the organic way the visuals interact with participants, but the piece conveys a message which creates a memorable experience.
See Brian Knep’s website at for more information.

Scott Sona Snibbe

The interactive apps created by Snibbe Studios for Björk and Phillip Glass are groundbreaking since the interactions directly relate to the music.  In addition, I really like the visual interactives he has created using silhouettes.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

I was introduced to the work of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer through the Open Air project in Philadelphia ( last year.  Upon further investigation, I found that he used participants heart beats, finger prints and live images of participants in other pieces and used surveillance cameras extensively.  I especially like Sandbox which was created for a beach in Santa Monica in 2010.

Maya Lin – Interactive Website

Marshmallow Laser Feast

About efjcomposer

Composer/New Media Designer/Educator
This entry was posted in Arts, Interactive Media, Music Composition, Video and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to InterActivity1-Toward a new concert experience

  1. Gary Atkins says:


    Great to see you have a blog..I am looking forward to following your post

  2. kalsti says:

    Like your ideas and would like to see where you go with this!

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