Technological innovations that will change music

To combat the current defection of creation in music, an increasing number of artists have been trying to renew the array of contemporary instruments for several years. New instruments or new ways of approaching sound for another way of making music, is the challenge faced by musicians, who are logically tuning in to our technological and connected era. Augmented reality, visual performances, immersive and participative music provide a panorama of technological innovations that will change music.

Music, musical expression and sound creation are profoundly connected to the technological developments in progress more than any other artistic field. With a widespread use of computer software in the studio, musicians regularly invent innovative proposals, both in the field of listening and sound aesthetics. Not only new universes of sound are opening out to us: see the music, experience it and participate are the next innovations that will very quickly change things in musical creation. In the field of music: today’s news is already history.

Music and augmented reality

The future of music may well be augmented reality. In this respect, Brian Eno and Karl Hyde from Underworld’s project, an RV application for iOS is particularly interesting and poetic. With this ‘app’, those who purchase the album by Eno & Hyde, Someday World, can see a virtual city flourish if they point their smartphone on the duo’s sleeve or even disc.

Eno • Hyde iOS App

It is experienced more fully with the vinyl version on which the digital architecture begins to move, open, grow, and pulsate to the rhythm of the music. With augmented reality, sound becomes a tangible object. That is what Augmented Groove a project developed by an American-Japanese team is doing. It will soon allow 3D objects to be generated to the sound and rhythm of the music in clubs and concerts. This technology, applied to classic smartphones, will be even more immersive with the use of RV headphones like Oculus.

Music and virtual reality

Virtual reality researchers are working on not only ‘experiencing the music,’ but also ‘seeing’ it, to be precise. In this field, you certainly can’t miss Oculus Rift, the famous ‘head mounted display.’ In this field, Surge, the music game offered by the company that developed Oculus Rift DK2 and created by 3D programmer, musician and filmmaker Arjan van Meerten, is a breath-taking step in the field of music/technology interaction and immersion.

Huge skeletal creatures emerge in the science-fictional and disturbing world of Surge, that fall apart to the rhythm of the soundtrack composed in real time by its designer and the players. A unique experience, according to all the users, even if this is only a tiny example of what RV has to offer in the future. 

Immersive scenography

Artists today like Ben Frost with A U R O R A live, the Anglo-Saxon Koreless with The Well (designed by Emmanuel Biard), Clark and his live Phosphor, also defy space by proposing immersive shows on the cutting-edge of digital technology and innovative scenography that plunge the spectator into a maelstrom of auditory and visual sensations. Immersion in a sea of perceptions is made possible thanks to the combination of strobe lights, sensors, photocells, 3D lasers, huge touch-sensitive screens and spectral video projections. A creative wave made possible by logical union due to the use of similar technology (after all Ableton Live and Max/MSP both include visual options).

Ben Frost A U R O R A w/MFO // visuals from MFO 

Music controlled by smartphone 

The participative aspect of music today cannot be ignored. This trend is here to stay. A recent example is Chloé X IRCAM proposed for the Fête de la Musique 2015 where the artist used new IRCAM web audio technology to design an interactive audio experience in which the sound circulated from machines to smartphones belonging to the public who could play certain sequences via their telephones.

In turn, the Artiphone instruments 1 project developed in Nashville, allows users to play hundreds of instruments controlled by an iPhone. The application not only allows the guitar, drums and electronic loop to be played, but also to mix and play an instrument with the sound of another (piano with the sound of a banjo for example)

INSTRUMENT 1 modes from Artiphon 

Kinect and remote controlled music

Kinect, the much-feted Xbox remote control covered with sensors and radar sensors, also has its role to play in the future of music. Used as a tool for interaction between a musical work and a listener/user, it permits innovation to be shaped like the V Motion Project, an interface enabling the music to be controlled by body movement. 

The V Motion Project from Assembly on Vimeo.

The rather unsavoury Skrillex, enabling a performer to use the movement of his arms and whole body to control the American’s dubstep, implemented this idea for a show. One can imagine the possibilities offered by this type of technology, for future scenographies, but also in concerts and clubs.

Maxence Grugier

photo title : CHLOE X IRCAM / Nuit Blanche 2015 / Gaité Lyrique photos © Vanessa Bosio 


Eno • Hyde - Lilac from Warp Records 

Ben Frost A U R O R A w/MFO from MFO on Vimeo.

Clark - Phosphor Teaser from Clark on Vimeo.

Koreless & Emmanuel Biard - The Well