In Loring Park, music arranged by your GPS


Loring Park (Photo by Jason Riedy via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Kate Nordstrum, Liquid Music curator, writes:

On the occasion of The Music of Bryce Dessner mini-festival presented by Liquid Music and the Walker Art Center, I thought it would be exciting to partner with Leav, a mobile platform that connects digital art with the world around it. It’s been fascinating to learn about this new technology and I invite you to experience Leav’s arrangement of Dessner’s Music for Wood and Strings on a walk through Minneapolis’ Loring Park (immediately across the street from where it will be played live by So Percussion on Saturday, April 4.) Your own movement will dynamically interact with the piece’s content—everyone’s listening experience is a unique creation. Leav founder Bobby Maher provides more context:

There is a relationship between art and location. In a gallery, at an outdoor art installation, at a play in a historical theater, or a show at a dive bar, our environment affects our experience. Mobile technology has ensured that we can listen to music or watch video anywhere, but unfortunately, this encourages most people to ignore the world around them. We wanted to change that.

In 2013, with the generous support of a New Media grant from the IFPMN and the McKnight Foundation, Andy Voegtline, Erik Martz, Joey Kantor, and I put together a team of artists and programmers to create a mobile platform for Minneapolis/St. Paul that could connect digital art with the world around it. We called it Leav.

Leav is a mobile app that allows users to take in art that is shaped by and linked to specific cues like location, time, and other environmental factors. It uses your phone’s GPS to uncover things like a citywide symphony with different orchestral parts drifting in and out depending on which city street you’re on, or a short film only viewable at dusk in a tree-filled park in December. Factors like time, temperature, direction, and speed of travel can dynamically interact with a piece’s accessibility and content.

We are proud to partner with world-renowned composer and musician, Bryce Dessner, and SPCO’s Liquid Music series to create an interactive experience that allows audiences to discover Dessner’s Music For Wood And Strings in a way otherwise impossible. Wander through Loring Park with your iPhone to reveal the composer’s intricate counterpoints, striking rhythms, and vibrant harmonies as a creative participant in your own listening experience.

To arrange this work we enlisted electronic composer Aquarelle (Ryan Potts) to reimagine Dessner’s intricate composition of four hammer-like dulcimer “chord sticks” as well as woodblocks, snares, and bass drums.

With a composition as dynamic and active as Music For Wood And Strings I first had to acknowledge that I could not fully encapsulate the range and breadth of the piece itself. That could not be done. But I could try to approximate the structural and thematic tendencies of the whole in smaller, focused sections that also illuminate the detail and interplay between the players of So Percussion. That become my aim throughout the process of arranging the piece into six distinct sections. – Aquarelle

When you first open Leav in Loring Park you will see a map indicating pieces of art in your area. Once you are inside the radius shown on the map, you can move within that space to hear the various musical elements of Music For Wood And Strings interact with one another.

Leav’s arrangement of Dessner’s Music For Wood And Strings will be available in Loring Park April through August 2015. The app is free for download in the iTunes store.

I hope to see you at the concerts this weekend or wandering the park with new eyes while the app is available.