Merry Monday Playtonics!
Let’s kick off the week right and bring back the long dormant column “Is This Music?” According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, philosophy of music is the study of fundamental questions about the nature of music and our experience of it. In keeping with these questions, “Is This Music?” aims to present thought-provoking expeditions into sound and ask, “Is this music?” Playtonic Dialogues is all about sparking discourse so please make a case for why X piece is or is not music. Without further ado…
The body is intimately linked to music. While melodies and rhythms may stamp their impressions on the mind, it is our physical form that creates, shapes, and reacts to sound. Next time you listen to music, try to subtly shift your awareness from how the music sounds to how your body reacts. Do you tap your foot to the meter? Do you hum the chorus? Regardless of how overt your physical expression of music is, the experience necessarily involves mind and body.
Furthermore, instruments, as tools of sound, can either originate from or interact with the body. Most immediately I think of voice as the body’s primary instrument. Additionally, stomping, clapping, and other manifestations of percussion need only the body to form. When an external artifact is used to create sound, it is still our bodies movements and control that dictate the instruments byproducts. So, why is it so strange to imagine a naked body as a musical instrument?
Over at SynthGear.com, I found this fascinating article titled, “Nude bodies as a musical instrument.” Apparently, Cocky Eek’s Tactile Research Lab has created an art-installation-meets-musical-instrument-meets-organic-weirdness. Get In Touch, as it is called, is an installation designed around the idea of using a nude body as a musical interface:
The installation consists of a big white cylinder shape, with human backs coming out of openings in the fabric. Visitors are invited to touch the backs to create sounds. When you touch two or more backs, a connection is made and you can start playing. To change the sound you apply more pressure. You can touch different combinations of backs to create new sounds.
See the original article and a video on the installation here.
Would you back that thing up? Is this music?