Techie composer turns tide into music

floodtideimage498x227Can a computer become a composer? John Eacott certainly believes it can. He has just completed another live performance of river song. It is his idea, but the music is actually created by technical hardware and software.

Eacott submerges a sensor in a tidal river to measure the ever-changing speed of the water, then uses wifi to beam back the data to a set of laptops in the performance space. The latest live gig at the Roundhouse in Camden, London rendered the notes dictated by the rushing tide into song. Volunteers from the Central School of Speech and Drama sight-read the score as it appeared on their screens Рno easy task!  River music is unpredictable and sometimes dissonant because the wind and waves affect the metrics.

Sensor smashed

The Flood Tide concept has been refined over the years since John Eacott first experimented with it in 2008. He has sonified the river Thames in several London locations and the river Orwell at Ipswich. But it does not always go according to plan – he says he has lost two sensors that were smashed to pieces by large lumps of driftwood. Hear the full interview with John Eacott and an example of Flood Tide music here..JohnEacott FloodTide

Future Intelligence Editor Peter Warren predicts that the next iteration of the Internet will be created by musicians and artists. Both keen sailors, he and John Eacott both agree that it will also involve a combination of the natural and the technical.