Kepler Concordia: Designing an immersive modular musical and scientific instrument using novel blockchain and sonification technologies in XR
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This paper describes the first steps in the creation of a new scientific and musical instrument to be released in 2019 for the 400th anniversary of Johannes Kepler's Harmonies of the World, which laid out his three laws of planetary motion and launched the field of modern astronomy. Concordia is a musical instrument that is modularly extensible, with its first software and hardware modules and underlying framework under construction now. The instrument is being designed in an immersive extended-reality (XR) environment with scientifically accurate visualizations and datatransparent sonifications of planetary movements rooted in the musical and mathematical concepts of Johannes Kepler , extrapolated into visualizations by Hartmut Warm , and sonified. Principles of game design, data sonification/visualization optimization, and digital and analog music synthesis are used in the 3D presentation of information, the user interfaces (UX), and the controls of the instrument, with an optional DIY hardware “cockpit” interface. The instrument hardware and software are both designed to be modular and open source; Concordia can be played virtually without the DIY cockpit on a mobile platform, or users can build or customize their own interfaces, such as traditional keyboards, button grids, or gestural controllers with haptic feedback to interact with the system. It is designed to enable and reward practice and virtuosity through learning levels borrowed from game design, gradually building listening skills for decoding sonified information. The frameworks for uploading, verifying, and accessing the data; programming and verifying hardware and software module builds; tracking of instrument usage; and managing the instrument's economic ecosystem are being built using a combination of distributed computational technologies and peer-to-peer networks, including blockchain and the Interplanetary Filesystem (IPFS). Participants in Concordia fall into three general categories, listed here in decreasing degrees of agency: 1) Contributors; 2) Players; and 3) Observers. This paper lays out the broad structure of Concordia, describes progress on the first software module, and explores the creative, social, economic, and educational potential of Concordia as a new type of creative ecosystem.