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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Emergent Harmony

Emergent Harmony

Emergent Harmony is a self-organising modular sound system that generates emergent music. It is composed of multiple independent sound modules that listen to their surroundings and react to sound signals coming from other modules or from audience members. The audience is invited to interact with the system and disrupt the emergent creation by moving the modules around in the space, or simply by generating sound.

Emergent Harmony is inspired by the process of improvisation in groups of musicians and is analogous with the concept of emergence in other self-organising systems such as swarms or cellular automata. Emergence is observed in complex systems when a structure appears at the scale of the system that cannot be predicted from the individual behaviours of its constituents. Research on improvisation and other complex systems shows that emergence happens when individual members of a self-organising system follow a set of trivial rules dictating their interaction with surrounding performers.

Emergent Harmony is currently a research technology and its aim is to evolve as a new composition and performance tool that could bring live musical creation and instrumental interaction towards unexplored paths.