My first meeting with my supervisor left me very inspired and motivated – I had the feeling to be able to explore almost any direction I wanted while still receiving full support. I communicated that the walking soundscape was definitely my favorite concept and in turn received some further input and keywords to look into.
One of those keywords was RjDj. The company Reality Jockey Ltd., which was founded in 2008, coined the term reactive music, which could be described as music that reacts to its listener or the environment in real time (Barnard et al., 2009). RjDj released a number of apps on iOS, which all seemed to be able to technically do exactly what I wanted to achieve with my walking scape – just in a much more broad sense. They built a framework based on Pure Data that allowed people to create music that reacts to a phone’s sensors. Basically anybody could create music (or “scenes” as they called it) for those apps, with the help of RjDj’s open source library rjlib. Unfortunately, neither the RjDj website, nor its apps are available anymore.
When looking through projects that were realized with RjDj, I very quickly found a pendant to my walking scape. While the essence of my concept, a tempo adjustment based on steps, was not implemented in this version from 2013, the concept itself is still very similar.
While I was very excited to dive a little bit deeper into RjDj, I also got a little bit discouraged – the innovative part of my idea seemed to be missing now. And with that feeling, my next week-long brainstorming session for a new concept began.
I realized that I could not totally let go of my original walking soundscape concept. I tried to figure out what exactly I found so deeply interesting about this idea. I figured out that am strongly pulled towards interaction and generative music. Towards creating something that is unique for everyone who experiences it. Towards shaping something so dynamic that it almost starts to feel like it can sense the atmosphere around one, while it also clearly influences it. Maybe something less individual and more collective. Something less like an app and more like an installation. Something like… an emotional space.
Barnard D. et al. (2009) Epilogue: Reactive Music and Invisible Interfaces. In: Mark D. (eds) iPhone User Interface Design Projects. Apress. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4302-2360-3_11