Satellite Gamelan: Microtonal Sonification Using a Large Consort of Mobile Phones
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This paper describes an approach to sonification based on an iPhone app created for multiple users to explore a microtonal scale generated from harmonics using the combination product set method devised by tuning theorist Erv Wilson. The app is intended for performance by a large consort of hand-held mobile phones where phones are played collaboratively in a shared listening space. Audio consisting of handbells and sine tones is synthesised independently on each phone. Sound projection from each phone relies entirely on venue acoustics unaided by mains-powered amplification. It was designed to perform a microtonal composition called Transposed Dekany which takes the form of a chamber concerto in which a consort of players explore the properties of an microtonal scale. The consort subdivides into families of instruments that play in different pitch registers assisted by processes that are enabled and disabled at various stages throughout the performance. The paper outlines Wilson's method, describes its current implementation and considers hypothetical sonification scenarios for implementation using different data with potential applications in the physical world.