MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1

MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 is the mobile app that guided visitors of the event Music for Oneself through a solitary and partially imagined musical experience around the Jazzcampus of the Musik-Akademie Basel. it consists of 23 short texts arranged in a modular fashion, giving readers instructions for where to go, what to listen to, and what to imagine, but also allowing them to create their own chain of events, their own imagined sound story. click on the Google Play badge below to download the app. click here to download the Android Studio project folder of MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1. following the badge is a description of the process of creating it.

Get it on Google Play

 
 

7iS-imaginedSoundStory

my first attempts to make an imagined musical experience are what i call imaginary sounds; texts that describe sounds using verbal metaphors. a simple example of an imaginary sound made up of only 3 words and a comma is iS1iS2_x1:

some light but,

iS1iS2_x1, like other imaginary sounds, invites readers to an imagined musical experience in which they are to use their own musical imagery to interpret the text. the music that is imagined depends on how the words and expressions forming the text – in this case, “some light” and “but,” – are metaphorically conceived by the reader. any interpretation is legitimate, as long as it is the result of a sincere reading.

in MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1, however, i wanted to specify the sounds to be imagined in a much more direct way, sparing the reader the need to transform the verbal metaphors into concrete descriptions of sounds on her/his own, and allowing her/him to focus solely on imagining the sounds. therefore, when i began to work on MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1, i tried writing down such a transformation of an imaginary sound as an experiment. the following text is the result, turning iS1iS2_x1 into something less suggestive and more instructive:

imagine a high, fragile tone whose pitch occasionally fluctuates. keep it in your mind for about a minute. abruptly cut it.

comparing this to iS1iS2_x1:

some light
=> imagine a high, fragile tone whose pitch occasionally fluctuates. keep it in your mind for about a minute.

but,
=> abruptly cut it.

the difference is obvious. rather than describing the sound using metaphors, the new text describes the sound itself.1 exploring this transformation technique further, i used a chance operation to select 6 additional imaginary sounds, iS1iS2_x4, iS4v2, iS2v2, iS1iS2_x4v1, iS1iS2_x4x1iS5, and iS1iS2v1, transformed also them into similar descriptions, and combined the resulting transformations into a longer text, to which i gave the title 7iS-imaginedSoundStory2, and which served as the first prototype of MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1:

imagine a high, fragile tone whose pitch occasionally fluctuates. keep it in your mind for about a minute and then abruptly cut it. then, pay attention to the sounds around you, and whenever you hear a sound with a definite attack, recall for a few seconds the high tone again. after about a minute and a half (or a minute if even the slightest bump does not occur), imagine a long faint downward glissando. assume then that the sounds around you pass through several guitar amplifiers and raise the distortion level of these amplifiers gradually and slowly. at the same time, repeatedly mute the amplifiers for increasing time intervals yet at a steady rate, creating almost a pulse and ending after a minute or two with a short burst of noise. let that burst of noise reoccur from time to time but irregularly, coming in waves of increasing and decreasing density. as the density decreases, imagine a fast, chaotic pitch sequence lasting for a few seconds. count at least seven sequences before shifting your attention back to the sounds around you. this time, however, suppose that they are heard from a small loudspeaker positioned far from you, and focus for a while on the altered timbre of the sounds. afterwards, imagine a series of long slow creaks coming from beneath the ground, some of them sounding simultaneously, others separately. one of them should be particularly slow, as if it is extremely stretched, continuing much longer than all the others. during this exceptionally long creak, recall once again that small loudspeaker, imagining that someone is erratically changing its volume. when that long creak ends, another, additional creak should follow it, also considerably long but still somewhat shorter, slowly fading out. the erratic changes in volume should become now more sporadic, and the sounds should come from multiple directions, as if there were multiple loudspeakers. imagining that long threads are loosely hung from the loudspeakers from which the sounds come, follow the twisted shapes that the threads make on the floor, as if they were contours of melodies hummed by breathy voices, forming a polyphonic texture of growing complexity. after about a minute, when the texture is complex enough, imagine a large crowd surrounding you, creating a noisy tumult, and immerse yourself in the sound for another half a minute. then, replace the tumult with a soft dull noise, intermittently interrupted by a few pauses but persistently continuing, and explore this unusual imagined situation in which nothing is audible except the dull noise. after a while, short squeaks are to be imagined on top of the soft dull noise, occurring when it is particularly quiet around you, or otherwise, if it is never quiet or always quiet, just once in a while. after about 30 squeaks, a soft but agitated rubbing sound, whose timbre varies between a smooth rustle and a dirty grating, should accompany the squeaks for a minute or two. finally, stop all the sounds that you hear, both physically and mentally, and try to imagine complete silence no matter how loud it is outside. the end.

below are the original imaginary sounds, annotated with the transformations that were combined into 7iS-imaginedSoundStory. the transformations are written in blue, and additional comments are added below each transformed imaginary sound.3

iS1iS2_x1
some light imagine a high, fragile tone whose pitch occasionally fluctuates. keep it in your mind for about a minute. but, abruptly cut it.


"light" was transformed into a description of a sound: "a high, fragile tone". "some" was transformed into a description of the duration of the sound: "for about a minute". "but," was transformed into a description of how the sound should end: "abruptly cut it".
iS1iS2_x4
\\ scattered pay attention to the sounds around you, and whenever you hear a sound with a definite attack, recall for a few seconds the high tone again. after about a minute and a half (or a minute if even the slightest bump does not occur), imagine a long faint downward glissando.


"scattered" was transformed into a description of an algorithm for producing "scattered" occurrences of "the high tone". "the high tone" refers to the previously transformed imaginary sound. it was chosen in order to create a sense of continuity. "\\" was transformed into the description "a long faint downward glissando": "downward glissando" because of the shape of the character, "long" because the character is repeated twice, and "faint" because it seems to fit with the "fragility" of "the high tone".
iS4v2
a noisy garage assume that the sounds around you pass through several guitar amplifiers. expanding raise the distortion level of these amplifiers gradually and slowly. into almost a pulse at the same time, repeatedly mute the amplifiers for increasing time intervals yet at a steady rate, creating almost a pulse. , a short p end after a minute or two with a short burst of noise.
  { trying to interact
with let that burst of noise reoccur from time to time but irregularly, coming in waves of increasing and decreasing density. as the density decreases, this
, high        ~ ZZHXUO (PPP

. . k , imagine a fast, chaotic pitch sequence lasting for a few seconds. count at least seven sequences before shifting your attention back to the sounds around you. however, this time, however, suppose that they are heard from a small loudspeaker positioned far away from you, and focus for a while on the altered timbre of the sounds.


"a noisy garage" was transformed into a description of a noisy rockish ("garage" was associated with rock music) setup of "several guitar amplifiers", from which the sounds around the reader should be heard. the transformation of "expanding" is raising the distortion level "gradually and slowly". "into almost a pulse" was transformed into another process simultaneous with the gradual change in the distortion level, leading eventually to the transformation of "a short p", which is "a short burst of noise" ("p" was interpreted as a voiceless bilabial stop). "{ trying to interact / with" was transformed into a description of an algorithm for coordinating the occurrences of the "short burst of noise" and the transformation of "this / , high        ~ ZZHXUO (PPP / / . . k", the description "a fast, chaotic pitch sequence" (the cryptic combination of spaces and characters following the word "high" seemed "chaotic" to me). "however," was transformed into a description of a setup contrasting the setup described at the beginning: "this time", the sounds around the reader are to be "heard from a small loudspeaker positioned far from" her/him rather than from "several guitar amplifiers".
iS2v2
long creaks, low
slow -
imagine a series of long slow creaks coming from beneath the ground, some of them sounding simultaneously, others separately.
creakingly crawling but without 
   [ almost moving, one of the creaks should be particularly slow, as if it is extremely stretched, continuing much longer than all the others.
as if   [ ... . <<  during this exceptionally long creak, recall once again that small loudspeaker, imagining that someone is erratically changing its volume. (a speculation when that long creak ends, another, additional creak should follow it, also considerably long but still somewhat shorter. \\ scattered

creakingly crawling slow fade out.


"long creaks, low / slow -" already seems to be a concrete description of sounds. therefore, it was only slightly changed: "a series of long slow creaks". "low" was transformed into a description of the direction from which the "long slow creaks" come: "beneath the ground". "creakingly crawling but without / [ almost moving,", was first simplified into "crawling creak almost without moving", and then transformed into a "particularly slow" creak. "as if   [ ... . <<" reminded me of moving a dial. accordingly, it was transformed into a description of someone who "is erratically changing [the] volume" of "that small loudspeaker" (the changes are described as erratic because of the uneven pattern the characters create). "(a speculation" was transformed into a description of an "additional creak", speculating, perhaps, if a longer creak could follow the previous "particularly slow" creak. "\\ scattered" was ignored for an unknown reason. "creakingly crawling", which appears at the end again, this time without the "but without / [ almost moving" part, was transformed into a description of how the "also considerably long but still somewhat shorter" creak should end: with a "slow fade out".
iS1iS2_x4v1
 \\ scattered
  
 


  / 
   :
    
/ /

   
 
 //   \ the erratic changes in volume should become more sporadic, and the sounds should come from multiple directions, as if there were multiple loudspeakers.


this time, "scattered" was transformed into the instruction to modify "the erratic changes in volume" into a more "scattered" ("sporadic") texture. the sentence "the sounds should come from multiple directions" might be associated with "scattered" as well, as it implies that the loudspeakers are possibly "scattered" around the reader. the "changes in volume" from the previously transformed imaginary sound were chosen for modification because the slashes, backslashes, and colon, like the square bracket, dots, and less-than signs that were transformed before into "changing [the] volume", are also nonletter characters. the slashes and backslashes also seem to occur rather "scatteredly", resembling a graphic description of "scattered" changes in an unspecified parameter (which is, in this case, the volume of the loudspeakers imagined by the reader).
iS1iS2_x4x1iS5
threads, a lot of 
plenty of entangled things, //////// imagineing that long threads are loosely hung from the loudspeakers from which the sounds come, follow the twisted shapes that the threads make on the floor, as if they were contours of melodies hummed by breathy voices, forming a polyphonic texture of growing complexity.
but
   [trying to dissolve, . 1 ^^  ^

   threads
        P 
c ~
when the texture is complex enough, imagine a large crowd surrounding you, creating a noisy tumult, and immerse yourself in the sound for about half a minute.
[
        not without some dust left in a big closed box replace the tumult with a soft dull noise.
] 2& {}
{an irritating hassle that will disappear when
 D / the noise is intermittently interrupted by a few pauses but persistently continuing. explore this unusual imagined situation in which nothing is audible except the dull noise.


"threads, a lot of / plenty of entangled things, ////////" was transformed into a description of an algorithm for producing an "entangled" texture, a "polyphonic texture of growing complexity" ("polyphonic" because there are "a lot of" "threads" and "plenty of entangled things"). the word "threads" is literally used in the description, and the "twisted shapes that the threads make" are to be followed by the reader "as if they were contours of melodies". the "threads" persist and grow into a "large crowd" "creating a noisy tumult", in which the reader should "immerse" herself/himself ("trying to dissolve"). "some dust" was transformed into the description "a soft dull noise", which replaces "the tumult" because it is "left in a big closed box". "] 2& {} / an irritating hassle that will disappear when / D /" was transformed into a description of how the "soft dull noise" should change over time: "intermittently interrupted by a few pauses" ("an irritating hassle") "but persistently continuing" ("that will disappear when / D /").
iS1iS2v1
the shortest creak short squeaks are to be imagined on top of the soft dull noise.
once in a while the squeaks should occur when it is particularly quiet around you, or otherwise, if it is never quiet or always quiet, just once in a while.
muted agitation - some after about 30 squeaks, a soft but agitated rubbing sound should accompany the squeaks for a minute or two.
creakingly crawling like [ small, even tiny the timbre of the rubbing should vary between a smooth rustle and a dirty grating.

sh stop all the sounds that you hear, both physically and mentally, and try to imagine a complete silence no matter how loud it is outside.


like the "long creaks" from the transformed version of iS2v2, "the shortest creak" also seems to be a concrete sound description. nevertheless, "the shortest" was changed to "short", and "creak" was changed to "squeaks". to create a sense of continuity, these "short squeaks" "are to be imagined on top of the soft dull noise". "once in a while" was transformed into a description of an algorithm for regulating the occurrences of the "short squeaks". "muted agitation - some" was transformed into a description of a sound that should accompany the "squeaks" after "about 30" of them occur (30 because of "some"): "a soft but agitated rubbing sound" ("muted" was transformed into "soft" and "agitation" was transformed into "agitated rubbing sound", which also seems to fit with the "dull noise"). "creakingly crawling like [ small, even tiny" was transformed into a description of how the timbre of the rubbing changes over time, varying "between a smooth rustle and a dirty grating" ("creakingly crawling" was transformed into "dirty grating" and "small, even tiny" was transformed into "a smooth rustle"). "sh" was interpreted as an interjection used to urge silence, and transformed into the description "complete silence".

as can be seen, the transformations were based on a rather free interpretation of the imaginary sounds. accordingly, some of the explanations and comments above may seem slightly artificial and arbitrary, or at best, highly subjective. certain parts of the imaginary sounds were simply ignored, like “\\ scattered” from iS2v2 (as was already mentioned above) and the nonletter characters from iS1iS2_x4x1iS5, and iS1iS2_x4 was transformed in reverse order: “scattered” was transformed before “\\”, although “\\” precedes “scattered”.

that being said, the structure of each imaginary sound was still carried over into its transformation relatively accurately. each text was divided into parts – characters, words, or expressions – which were then transformed one after another, creating a sequence of successive descriptions.

additional tendencies and patterns can also be observed, in particular:

  • the transformations of nonletter characters as well as of unintelligible combinations of letter characters were mostly based on the graphic qualities of the characters (for example, the backslashes from iS1iS2_x4 and the cryptic combination of letters from iS4v2).
  • words and expressions directly related to sound and music were either used literally or only slightly changed in their transformations (already mentioned above are the “long creaks, low / slow” from iS2v2 and “the shortest creak” from iS1iS2v1, but additional examples include also “almost a pulse” from iS4v2 and “threads” from iS1iS2_x4x1iS54, as well as “once in a while” and “muted agitation”, also from iS1iS2v1).
  • the parts of speech of certain words also influenced their transformations: nouns were often transformed into descriptions of sounds (for example, “light” from iS1iS2_x1 and “speculation” from iS2v2); adjectives into descriptions of algorithms for producing textures that could be characterized by the adjectives (“scattered” from iS1iS2_x4 and “entangled” from iS1iS2_x4x1iS5); gerunds into descriptions of processes (“expanding” from iS4v2 and “crawling” from iS2v2); determiners into descriptions of durations and quantities (“some” from iS1iS2_x15 and iS1iS2v1, and “a lot of” and “plenty of” from iS1iS2_x4x1iS5); and contrasting conjunctions into descriptions of contrasting changes (“but” from iS1iS2_x1 and “however” from iS4v2).

moreover, in the comments added to the transformations of iS1iS2_x4 and iS1iS2v1 i state that in order to create “a sense of continuity”, parts of these transformed imaginary sounds refer to parts of the transformed imaginary sounds preceding them. as a matter of fact, with the exception of the transformation of iS4v2, all transformed imaginary sounds include references to the transformed imaginary sounds preceding them. furthermore, different parts of the same transformed imaginary sound also frequently refer to one another. clearly, at the time of writing these transformations, i already had in mind that they will be combined into a longer text, into a story.
 

site-specific texts

even though 7iS-imaginedSoundStory does refer occasionally to the sounds around the reader, it can be read anywhere, and therefore, it is not site-specific. in MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1, however, i wanted the reader to also walk around and explore her/his surroundings, imagining sounds not just as sounds per se, but as parts of specific environments. so, i wrote 9 additional texts, each to be read at a different place around the Jazzcampus, the building in which MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 was to be realized.6 the figures below show the architectural plan of the building (floors -1 to 1) and the numbers indicate the places i chose and the titles of the texts corresponding to them.7 notice that in MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 titles are more than just labels: in order to give the reader the possibility to decide for herself/himself on the order of the texts (within limit; see below), whenever she/he finishes a text, a list of the possible titles of the following texts is shown to her/him, from which the next text can be chosen.
floor-1
floor0
floor1
0: the main corridor of floor -1, where the other parts of the event Music for Oneself took place. the reader should start here.
1: SMALL INTERVALS
2: REARRANGED ELEVATOR
3: REAL AND IMAGINED
4: BREATHING WALLS
5: CRACKING GLASSES
6: BROKEN SCORE
7: PALE GLISSANDI
8: UNRECOGNIZABLE RUSTLE
9: CAPTURED SOUND

to choose these places, i looked for interesting details to which i could refer in the texts and develop into descriptions of sounds to be imagined. naturally, as we are dealing here with sound and music, the first thing with which i concerned myself, was those particular sounds that were already sounding in the building, creating its ambience. 4 of the 9 site-specific texts of MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 were based on such sounds:

  • in REAL AND IMAGINED (3) the reader is asked to walk down the stairs following the sound coming from the equipment room until she/he reaches a closed gate, and then to compare the sound to an imagined version of it, in which the pitches she/he hears in the sound are played on instruments of her/his choice.
  • in SMALL INTERVALS (1) the sound of the copy machine in the locker room is to be imagined as the timbre of a duophonic sight-controlled keyboard encompassing an interval only slightly larger than a major 2nd, whose keys are the 107 lockers.
  • in REARRANGED ELEVATOR (2) the reader should pay attention to the sounds of the elevator and afterwards rearrange them in her/his mind.
  • in CAPTURED SOUND (9) the reader is asked to observe how the sound of the room changes when a window is open, pick a sound from the sounds coming from the outside and capture it in her/his mind, close the window, imagine that the captured sound flies around the room trying to find a way to escape, open the window again, let the sound out, and close the window again.

as one can see, in all of these texts the ambience serves as the basic musical material: a combination of pitches (a chord) in REAL AND IMAGINED, a timbre in SMALL INTERVAL, and a bank of samples in REARRANGED ELEVATOR and in CAPTURED SOUND.

but it was not only the sounds of the building that were used as starting points, as 2 of the 9 site-specific texts were based solely on visual, nonsounding elements:

  • in UNRECOGNIZABLE RUSTLE (8) the way clouds fill the sky, seen through a skylight on the second floor, is to be interpreted as a score regulating an imagined sound of rain, whose sound quality gradually deteriorates until it cannot be distinguished from an unrecognizable rustle.
  • in CRACKING GLASSES (5), the reader is to imagine how it would sound if the large glass doors of the practice rooms cracked apart extremely slowly and crashed down one after another.

2 other texts, BREATHING WALLS and PALE GLISSANDI refer not only to the places indicated on the architectural plan above, but also to the route to them:

  • in BREATHING WALLS (4) the reader is asked to imagine that the sound of her/his breathing is amplified and heard from the walls of the building, as if the walls were breathing with her/him, starting soft and becoming louder and louder, while she/he is walking from inside the building to the yard outside.
  • in PALE GLISSANDI (7) the reader is asked to imagine that a pale tone in the middle register is coming from above her/him, continuously ascending or descending in pitch, while she/he is taking the elevator or walking up the stairs to place number 7. whenever she/he hears a sound that grabs her/his attention she/he should switch the direction in which the pitch of the pale tone is changing.8

(as a contrast, in other situations in which the reader had a long way to walk before the next text, she/he was asked not to imagine any sound at all.)

lastly, BROKEN SCORE (6) draws on sounds, visual elements and the route to place number 6. it is also the only case in MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1, in which i directly intervened with the sounds that were heard (not just imagined) in the building. at the beginning of the text, the reader is asked to keep the sound of the copy machine from SMALL INTERVALS in her/his mind and walk up the stairs to the second floor. for each step she/he takes, the pitch of the imagined sound of the copy machine is to be lowered and its loudness is to be increased. when the reader reaches the second floor, she/he sees in front of her/him an iPhone 4 with a broken screen and she/he is asked to interpret that broken screen musically as if it was a graphic score. on top of that imagined interpretation, the phone also plays a high synthetic noisy whistle (a slightly varied version of filteredNoise2), which the reader should have already noticed while she/he was walking up the stairs and is now to be considered an additional musical layer.

below are photos of the places mentioned above. the first 4 are actually YouTube videos including sound examples. the last one is a YouTube video as well, including a photo of the broken screen of the iPhone 4 and the sound that was played. to read the full texts, see the scheme at the end of this post.

UNRECOGNIZABLE RUSTLE

CRACKING GLASSES


 

more texts

as i was trying to define the possible orders in which the reader could read the 9 texts described above, i realized that she/he would spend considerably more time walking from place to place than on reading the texts and imagining the sounds they describe. therefore, i decided to add to MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 also texts that are not site-specific, allowing the reader to stay longer at each place. this is how 7iS-imaginedSoundStory came back to the picture, as i broke it back down into shorter texts. it is repeated again below, but divided into sections marked by the titles i gave to the new texts i derived from it.

HIGH AND FRAGILE
imagine a high, fragile tone whose pitch occasionally fluctuates. keep it in your mind for about a minute and then abruptly cut it.
BUMP REMINDERS
then, pay attention to the sounds around you, and whenever you hear a sound with a definite attack, recall for a few seconds the high tone again. after about a minute and a half (or a minute if even the slightest bump does not occur), imagine a long faint downward glissando.
BURST OF NOISE
assume then that the sounds around you pass through several guitar amplifiers and raise the distortion level of these amplifiers gradually and slowly. at the same time, repeatedly mute the amplifiers for increasing time intervals yet at a steady rate, creating almost a pulse and ending after a minute or two with a short burst of noise.
CHAOTIC SEQUENCES
let that burst of noise reoccur from time to time but irregularly, coming in waves of increasing and decreasing density. as the density decreases, imagine a fast, chaotic pitch sequence lasting for a few seconds. count at least seven sequences before shifting your attention back to the sounds around you.
SMALL LOUDSPEAKER
this time, however, suppose that they are heard from a small loudspeaker positioned far away from you, and focus for a while on the altered timbre of the sounds.
LONG CREAKS
afterwards, imagine a series of long slow creaks coming from beneath the ground, some of them sounding simultaneously, others separately. one of them should be particularly slow, as if it is extremely stretched, continuing much longer than all the others. during this exceptionally long creak, recall once again that small loudspeaker, imagining that someone is erratically changing its volume. when that long creak ends, another, additional creak should follow it, also considerably long but still somewhat shorter, slowly fading out.
MELODIC THREADS
the erratic changes in volume should become now more sporadic, and the sounds should come from multiple directions, as if there were multiple loudspeakers. imagining that long threads are loosely hung from the loudspeakers from which the sounds come, follow the twisted shapes that the threads make on the floor, as if they were contours of melodies hummed by breathy voices, forming a polyphonic texture of growing complexity. after about a minute, when the texture is complex enough, imagine a large crowd surrounding you, creating a noisy tumult, and immerse yourself in the sound for another half a minute.
DULL NOISE
then, replace the tumult with a soft dull noise, intermittently interrupted by a few pauses but persistently continuing, and explore this unusual imagined situation in which nothing is audible except the dull noise.
SHORT SQUEAKS
after a while, short squeaks are to be imagined on top of the soft dull noise, occurring when it is particularly quiet around you, or otherwise, if it is never quiet or always quiet, just once in a while.
AGITATED RUBBING
after about 30 squeaks, a soft but agitated rubbing sound, whose timbre varies between a smooth rustle and a dirty grating, should accompany the squeaks for a minute or two.
INNER SILENCE
finally, stop all the sounds that you hear, both physically and mentally, and try to imagine a complete silence no matter how loud it is outside. the end.

simply dividing 7iS-imaginedSoundStory into shorter texts, however, was not enough. because i also wanted the reader to decide for herself/himself on the order of the texts (at least to some extent), the fact that many parts of 7iS-imaginedSoundStory refer to the parts preceding them, turned out to be a problem. to solve that without giving up on the sense of continuity that these references create, i intro­duced variables to 8 of the 11 texts, so each of them could follow at least 2 different texts.9 to give an example, the following part of BUMP REMINDERS, “… recall for a few seconds the high tone again.”, was replaced by “… recall for a few seconds [var].”, in which [var] may be “the sound that ended the last rearranged elevator sequence from the previous text” when REARRANGED ELEVATOR precedes BUMP REMINDERS, “the burst of noise that ended the previous text” when BURST OF NOISE precedes BUMP REMINDERS, and “the amplified breathing sounds that you previously imagined” when BREATHING WALLS precedes BUMP REMINDERS.10

my intention was to create a structure in which each site-specific text could be followed by 2-3 texts derived from 7iS-imaginedSoundStory,11 which could then be followed by other site-specific texts or other texts derived from 7iS-imaginedSoundStory, and so forth. to accomplish that, it was also necessary to write 3 additional texts: GIGANTIC HEART, which adds the beating of a gigantic heart on top of an already “sounding” imagined sound; DIFFERENT SIZES, which modifies the reverberation of the room and transforms the sound preceding it in different ways specific to the sound; and JERKY CHIRPS, which transforms the sound preceding it into “fast jerky rhythms of chirp-like sounds”. furthermore, SMALL LOUDSPEAKER was changed to HIDDEN LOUDSPEAKER, because i thought it would be more interesting if instead of imagining that the sounds around the reader are heard from a small loudspeaker, the reader imagines that the loudspeaker (which produces sounds that vary according to the text preceding HIDDEN LOUDSPEAKER) is hidden and then try to look for it. whenever she/he gets close enough, she/he should imagine that the loudspeaker suddenly changes its position.

the scheme below illustrates the final structure of MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 (triangle-arrowheads point to the possible continuations of a text, and simple-arrowheads help to clarify the right directions of the lines that would otherwise be too obscure).12 at the beginning, the reader is supposed to be in the main corridor of floor -1 and choose from REAL AND IMAGINED, SMALL INTERVALS, and PALE GLISSANDI. the end arrives when there are no more texts to choose from (each text can be read only once).

scheme

finally, it is hoped that in addition to giving an insight into how MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 was made, also allows those who did not visit the event Music for Oneself to build up a detailed picture of how it would have been to be experience it. the app itself, which is still available for download and can be used anywhere and anytime (and readers are more than encouraged to try it), should provide a tangible dimension for speculating on that question, of course, as tangible as it could be to imagine that one is imagining.
 

notes:
1 of course, words like “high” and “fragile” are also metaphors. however, at least within the context of sound and music, they are much less ambiguous than the word “light”, which they replace. (back)
2 because the text describes sounds that could be real, they can no longer be considered imaginary, even though they are still to be imagined. (back)
3 this form of presentation differs only slightly from what is called in CompositionCloud annotated imaginary sounds. there, annotations defining how the different verbal metaphors are to be interpreted are added to the imaginary sounds. (back)
4 obviously, “threads” is not a word directly related to sound or music. nevertheless, in the transformation of the first part of iS1iS2_x4x1iS5, “threads” are incorporated in a description of an imagined graphic score consisting of “long threads loosely hung from the loudspeakers from which the sounds come”. (back)
5 “some” from iS1iS2_x1 was transformed into the description “for about a minute”. other descriptions of defined durations in 7iS-imaginedSoundStory were then based on this timescale of “about a minute”: “about a minute and a half” and “a minute” (iS1iS2_x4), “a minute or two” (iS4v2 and iS1iS2v1) and “half a minute” (iS1iS2_x4x1iS5). (back)
6 my original intention was to realize MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 outside in the city, where i thought to take advantage of the large, already available variety of different sounds and environments and their diverse connotations and associations. unfortunately, because the event Music for Oneself was part of my master’s recital for an MA in Composition and Music Theory at the Hochschule für Musik Basel, i was obliged to realize MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1 in the same building where all the other recitals took place. this restriction did limit the scope of what i initially had in mind, but at the same time, perhaps, also enabled me to focus on the more subtle differences between the different spaces of that building as well as on the ways in which they are connected to one another. (back)
7 as a matter of fact, the building is divided into 4 “houses” and each has a different number of floors (there are up to 4 floors in the building). nevertheless, although none of the texts corresponding to the numbers indicated in the third figure are to be read on floor 1 (CRACKING GLASS (5), BROKEN SCORE (6), PALE GLISSANDI (7), and UNRECOGNIZABLE RUSTLE (8) are to be read on floor 2 and CAPTURED SOUND (9) is to be read on floor 3), in the context of MUSIC FOR ONESELF v1, the architectural differences between floors 1 to 4 are negligible. (back)
8 note that PALE GLISSANDI is not really site-specific, as even though the atmosphere of the Jazzcampus did have influence on the effect it had on the reader, like 7iS-imaginedSoundStory, it can be read any­where. that being said, because even the preceding site-specific texts may be generalized and adapted to other places, it seems to me that site-specificity is actually more like a continuum than a dichotomy. (back)
9 the texts to which i did not add variables are: HIGH AND FRAGILE, which always follows PALE GLISSANDI; SHORT SQUEAKS, which always follows BURST OF NOISE (but only when BURST OF NOISE follows REARRANGED ELEVATOR); and INNER SILENCE, which is always the last text. (back)
10 note that BUMP REMINDERS cannot follow HIGH AND FRAGILE as it does in 7iS-imaginedSoundStory. in fact, only 5 of the 11 texts can follow the texts they originally followed in 7iS-imaginedSoundStory. (back)
11 the only exception is CAPTURED SOUND, a site-specific text that can follow REARRANGED ELEVATOR, which is site-specific as well. the reason is that REARRANGED ELEVATOR leads the reader to the place where CAPTURED SOUND is to be read. (back)
12 in addition, the app limits the number of the possible texts that can follow a text to a maximum of 4 (giving less priority to the site-specific texts) and ensures that 8 of the 9 site-specific texts are always followed by at least 1 additional text (that is not INNER SILENCE, the last text). the only exception, again, is CAPTURED SOUND. (back)

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