Vocal Instant Composition

Loop-Copy-Mutate: Background


voorloopig affiche LCM“The Genetic Choir and the Loop-Copy-Mutate project are extraordinary laboratories to test numerous relevant questions in the field of music evolution, psychology and computer music, such as the possibility of simulating musical intuition in a computer system.”

– Marcelo Gimenes, Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research, University of Plymouth

‘Loop-Copy-Mutate’ are the fundamental elements of composition for both electronic and improvising musicians.  It has also become the prevalent way to communicate and create in today’s predominantly digital culture. How can we truly become creators in a world focused on the consumption of “recycled” material? 

The Loop-Copy-Mutate project explores how meaningful content can be created in such open and uncontrolled processes, drawing upon the sounds that we encounter on a daily basis and channeling them within an interactive concert setting. Audiences will experience how their own vocal contributions transform and interact in the process of searching for and creating meaning from the everyday sounds around us.

Project Timeline:

September 2015 – With a starter subsidy from the Stimuleringsfonds, we launched a four-month pilot project to investigate the artistic and technological possibilities within this ambition.

  • Several artistic development sessions with laptop artist Robert van Heumen, in order to develop a specific method informed by vocal and electronic approaches to sound mutation and improvisation.
  • An expert meeting at STEIM (October 2015), in connection with research centers and academic programs for computer music including representatives from the University of Amsterdam (NL), Utrecht High School of the Arts (NL) and Plymouth University (UK), to discus the possibilities of developing sound analysis/categorization software that is fine-tuned to the nuances of the voice, providing a sound bank for use within a live composition processes by electronic musicians
  • Genetic Choir concert with Robert van Heumen to demonstrate artistic outcomes from their working sessions at STEIM (December 2015)

Based on the success of this initial project, we received invitations to present our initial findings at the International Computer Music Conference (Utrecht, NL, Sept 2016) and the International Symposium on the Histories and Practices of Choral Singing (Lund, Sweden, October 2016) based on Thomas Johannsen’s article describing the collaboration of the ‘human sampling organism’ of the Genetic Choir with computer music programmers working on computer listening and music creative systems.

In December 2016, we began a year-long performance-based project ‘Music from People and Places’ that will involve a series of concerts engaging the public in instant composition processes together with Robert van Heumen. The debut of the project took place at Media Art Friesland in Leewarden, where we will return to close the project in December 2017. The concerts will draw upon sounds inspired by each concert location, offering audiences the opportunity to experience their own vocal contributions as part of the concert.

The première of Loop-Copy-Mutate was held on 2 July 2017 in the new Noord/Zuidlijn metro station beneath Amsterdam Central Station. The première of Loop-Copy-Mutate was held on 2 July 2017 in the new Noord/Zuidlijn metro station beneath Amsterdam Central Station. In the weeks preceding the concert the Genetic Choir held ‘sound walks‘ around Amsterdam CS, asking travellers, passers-by, and people from all over the world to listen to the stations’ sounds as if they were a symphony, inviting them to add their chosen sounds to a musical database. During the concert on 2 July, the public decided which sounds were used as part of the event. Watch a video clip from the performances here (courtesy of Gemeente Amsterdam).

To learn more about the concert series and how you can get involved, visit our main project page.

Beyond the scope of this performance project in 2017, we are interested in working together with computer programmers to develop intelligent sound analysis software and an accompanying app, which the intent to further engage audiences in the instant composition process. Through these developments, we hope to gain an understanding of the musical parameters that can be implemented to create a satisfying composing environment involving both random and user-driven processes.