Music for Remote Controllers



Music for remote controllers is three works, two ‘covers’ of pieces by Philip Glass and Terry Riley that have been adapted for the remotes and my own work ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ that has been specially written for them. They are created for a set of simple instruments intended for audience interaction. I call these local network instruments. These remote controls are intended to be generic enough to be adaptable to pieces either written for or adapted to them and simple enough that they need little or no explanation. They are designed as a minimalist wireless ‘remote control’ and include a single knob that doubles as a push button and an eight by eight tri-colour LED grid. Ten of these are housed in custom built cases giving a look somewhere between a guitar stomp box with a screen and a wood panelled vintage synthesiser. The interesting possibility of the devices is that they allow a piece to be tried out with an inexperienced or non-expert ‘community’ audience with a minimal amount of explanation. The idea of the remotes is to simplify the idea of the instrument in a piece such that audience members operate only the key parts of the piece using the minimal interaction afforded by a single push button rotary encoder.

The two cover pieces were premiered in SARC’s sonic lab in 2011 with a rendition of Philip Glass’ One and One and Terry Riley’s In C. My own work with the remotes, The Wisdom of Crowds, was premiered at Mindflood Media’s Artspace in 2012. It adapted my Euclidean sequencer to use a genetic algorithm to generate crowd pleasing material. The audience were instructed to turn the knob one way if they liked the rhythm and the other if they did not, this information was visualised and used to guide the interactive algorithm.