Any group of people who speak the same language can hold an impromptu conversation. They generally cannot improvise a shared musical composition, unless they have musical training. Non-musicians customarily express themselves musically by selecting music to play for other people, for instance, by constructing playlists. Groups with shared tastes congregate in venues where music they prefer is played.
This projects aims to create a new means of socializing for non-musicians, which is based on musical exchange. This means of music-making is more collective than a typical situation in which groups listen to a single musical source, as in a concert, club, or living room. In this work, collective musical taste is manifested as hybridization and development of participants' music preferences and a shifting, ongoing improvisation results.
Music and Fashion: Non-Symbolic Communication
Music is primarily a non-symbolic form of expression, unlike speech. Musical exchange is based on a shared aesthetic sense of what-goes-with-what, rather than agreement on what-means-what. Personal fashion is a similar form of individual expression and group identification, which requires no special training. Individuals combine articles of clothing into an ensemble, and people with a shared fashion sense tend to flock together in settings where their individual tastes are reflected in a shared aesthetic.
Just as people can form sentences as well as understand them, they can create clothing ensembles as well as appreciate them. Music is more one-sided: most persons can understand and appreciate music but lack the ability to recombine basic musical elements, such as notes, chords, and figures, into new compositions.
This project allows musicians and non-musicians alike to combine musical elements as if they were clothing or speech.
In this project evolutionary behavior is manifested at three distinct levels. First the building blocks themselves evolve. This occurs in the generative mathematical relationships manipulated at the level of musical notes, as described below. Next is the competition of musical strategies for combining and manipulating these building blocks. This evolution occurs within genetic algorithms implemented by the software. Finally the interactions of participants in the shared musical environments causes the music itself to evolve. Cooperation occurs within each shared musical space, and competition occurs between those spaces, as participants choose among the available shared spaces and their respective musical streams.
The environment functions as a music ecosystem where musical memes interact and evolve.