Imagine a musical world without virtuosos or genius composers. Concert halls with stage and auditorium will merely become examples of a romantic, golden past, when people would come together, silently and respectfully – and applauding only when allowed – to listen with reverence to a spectacular exhibition of manual and artistic dexterity by a virtuoso playing a Steinway concert piano or holding a Stradivarius violin worth US$ 2 million.
We are yet to reach this point, but we are well on our way. Nowadays it is already possible to hold interactive concerts on line, by musicians spread over the four corners of the world (with the right to be heard in streaming all over the world as well). Members of “Mobile – interactive musical processes” have recently played at such a concert. Mobile is a theme project coordinated by Fernando Iazzetta, from the School of Arts and Communications (ECA) of the University of São Paulo (USP), with the support of FAPESP.
“In June 2011, we held a Net Concert, in collaboration with the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Sarc), of Queen’s University, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was a collaborative concert, with two groups of musicians, one of them in our Studio (Lami – the Laboratory of Musical Acoustics and Information Technology) at the University of São Paulo (USP) and the other group in the Sarc auditorium,” says Iazzetta. Connected via a multichannel audio and video system, the two groups played five musical pieces composed especially for this kind of event. Two issues are being addressed by this project. The first is to test and develop systems for remote connection in real time so that musicians can play together even if they are in different places. The second is to explore this system creatively. “In other words, our idea is not simply to have musicians play a traditional piece in different countries or cities (even though this is a possibility), but rather to create works that take advantage of the internet 2.0 environment and explore new possibilities of this environment.”
In the aftermath of this first successful test, Mobile will hold a second concert via speedy internet. The concert, scheduled for March 22, 2012, will be part of the Sonorities Festival of Belfast. Once again, two groups – one in São Paulo and the other one in Belfast – will perform a concert with high audio and video resolution connection in real time. The groups will perform music pieces composed especially for this event. The audience will be able to enjoy the concert in São Paulo, in Belfast or anywhere else in the world, through internet streaming access. Information on the concert and the address to access the streaming will soon be accessible on the following site: www.eca.usp.br/mobile.
Music by (and for) everyone
Mobile, which began in 2009 and is scheduled for conclusion in 2013, promotes, according to Iazzetta, “the combination of theoretical and artistic production, making it possible for creative work to be developed within this proposal. There is a lot of interest in exploring actions that can promote an exchange between various fields of knowledge (arts, computer science, engineering), as well as between music and other media arts. The work is grouped into four lines of research: sonology; the development of interactive systems; artistic production with interactive systems; and musical acoustics, psychoacoustics and auralization.”
More specifically, the objectives take into account the demise of the idea of genius performers and works of art. This is probably the highest merit of the Mobile project: to view music in other terms, more connected to the urban, behavioral, scientific and technological realities that surround us. The project has a floating team comprised of 30 to 40 collaborators – which includes post-graduate students, undergraduate students, and professors from other departments and universities, such as Unesp and Unicamp. The project also has two sub coordinators, professors Fabio Kon and Marcelo Gomes de Queiroz, both from USP. The objective is to join artistic and scientific production, and encourage interdisciplinary and collective creation processes.
Mobile has organized two collective performances in the last two years; its collaborators have already presented approximately 70 papers at Brazilian and international seminars. In addition, sub-groups such as duos, trios, and even bigger groups concentrate on specific aspects of experimental music and put them into practice. There is no established aesthetic attitude, even though, according to Iazzetta, “given the profile of the people involved, the attitude is directed towards experimental music.”
There is no doubt that Mobile seeks to achieve future objectives consistently and boldly, while keeping its feet firmly on the ground. In a way, what Mobile has achieved anticipates the conclusions of sociologist Pierre-Michel Mender in his article “A step towards utopia,” included in the collection Artistes 2020 – Variations prospectives, published in France in 2010. Menger has made a very interesting prediction. His sharp “crystal ball” sets the year 2020 as the end of the selective filter in music and dance: the barriers between musical genres will become weaker. He has predicted a “de-specialization” in the visual arts and the multiplication of hybrids among the art disciplines (video, film, painting, sculpture, theater, opera, dance). He preaches the “democracy of the genius” (or the end of the prolonged and tortured training, both in terms of creation and of performance). The “deconstruction of the idea of the work.” The utopia of “everybody in the world is an artist,” says Menger, will be supported by a transformation of the practice of art, namely, self-training within the context of mutual exchange and learning over the web, as well as the enhancement of hybrid practices, insistence on collective activity and the mutualization of the notion of creative innovations, and the weakening of the notion of property rights to benefit the free re-combination of ideas and solutions accessible to everybody. All of this is already a reality here, as attested to by the performances, articles and the strict interdisciplinary practice of Mobile.
Mobile: interactive musical processes no. 2008/08632-8
Fernando Iazzetta (ECA/USP)
R$ 414,806.66 (FAPESP)