Regrettably, the performance hidden from the audience is that of the conductor.

Too Much Sound Makes The Baby Go Deaf

Return; individual memory; composition; constraint; engagement; consensus

This will last one hour. It is to be performed by a chamber orchestra. Its progression is controlled, in part, by the will of the audience.

The performers have rehearsed thirty short pieces, of average duration ninety seconds. These pieces may be written in a variety of moods, and their titles are all distinct. They may all be played, potentially; but not consecutively.

At the back of the venue, behind the audience yet in clear view of the performers, is a large LED signboard capable of displaying the numbers one to thirty. At the front of the venue, behind the musicians yet in clear view of the audience, is a large “menu” with the titles of the short pieces, ordered by number.

Each audience member is equipped with an electronic keypad bearing the numbers one to thirty. When a key is pressed, its number is sent to the memory of a central computer. The computer is connected to the LED signboard.

Once everyone is seated and expectant, and once the preliminary coughs have been dispensed with, the leader of the orchestra rises and briefly explains that the keypads will allow the audience to collectively assemble the performance from the menu. The audience determines what is displayed on the signboard, which in turn determines which piece will be played next.

There is to be as little interruption as possible between the adjacent pieces, and pieces can be repeated as many times as they are selected.

There are many algorithms that could translate the audience’s incoherent mashings into a single collective decision. Here, the next piece to be played is simply the most popular selection. To forestall total confusion, the number on the board should be updated only once every three seconds.

At the commencement of each new piece, the computer memory is wiped but the audience’s memory is not.

In this way, the thirty pieces are played in a “random” order. The emergent performance is a unique story inadertantly told by the audience (who nevertheless can learn from past experience and begin to construct their future experience from the materials encountered in the past). Once the hour is up, a bell rings and the musicians abruptly stop playing: the performance is over.

Lead Me

Cultivation; intimacy; signals; shared memory; learning; silence

Two musicians, well known to one another (ideally intimately). One of them has rehearsed the piece thoroughly. The other has never seen the score or heard it played.

As they attempt to play the duet, no words pass between them. The first musician must, in real time, find other ways (eyes, breath, dyanmics, reinterpretations) to guide their sensitive responsive partner through the piece. All the while, the partner adds flair and unexpected adornments – most rooted in misunderstanding, but some rooted in a deeper inspiration that would inevitably become eroded with practice.