Text by CLOT Magazine
Spacial sound designers and researchers are exponentially exploiting the possibilities of new media, such as virtual and augmented reality, and some of them are already bringing us palpable creations. Planeta, a product studio based in NYC, works at the forefront of experimenting with sound and its interactions with emerging technology.
Planeta is addressing the future of interface-sound composition design and bringing an inclusive take into sophisticated musical processes by tacking sound away from the usual production parameters. Planeta’s creations focus on a moving, 3D experience where actions are open-ended and completely immersive.
Today Planeta are releasing Drops, a drum machine for a VR environment reimagined as a generative gravity-based collision course. Exchanging knobs and buttons for particles emitters and shapes traversed by particles bouncing off imaginary musical surfaces, it will offer an immersive setting for music production set in a serene environment for Oculus and HTC Vive.
Drops distance itself from the usual VR experiences as it adds an educational layer, as kinaesthetic learning provides a way for those with little to no musical training to create vibrant, polyphonic rhythms. Experimental composer Patrick Higgins (of Zs) and DJ/producer Patrick Russell created the first two sound libraries.
Further, Drops virtual space has been inspired by the work of the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who is highly regarded for his unparalleled work with concrete, the sensitive treatment of natural light and active engagement with nature.
Planeta also recently released Fields, an augmented reality app for iOS which allows you to compose on a 3D sonic canvas. The app uses the physical space and soundscape around the user to paint with sounds visualised as glowing orbs.
Loops are recorded via the mic and spatialised around your environment, which can then be rediscovered by pointing your device in their direction. Fields include original works by Matmos, Ami Yamasaki, Matthew Patterson Curry, Nils Berg Cinemascope, and an exclusive spatial edit by Robert Lippok. Still, the app comes alive when using your soundscape as a playground.
Robert Lippok shared with us why he got interested in the app: Two of my interests came together with the field project. Gaming on one side. I`m not a gamer, but I see that there is so much new thinking coming out of this scene. I`ve just been to an Indie game fair in Berlin called A Maze. More and more is, gaming, art and literature merging together. With a gaming approach, you can rethink the narrative of a story, recombine music, work total different on art pieces and so on.
Second is spatial music, as Wikipedia says, music in which the location and movement of sound sources are primary compositional parameters. I‘ve been working on many installations where the spectator was invited to move around the space and experience the changes inside the sonic field. And I’ve developed a musical interpretation of an architectural model for 4DSOUND with the American composer and journalist Peter Kirn.
This highly complex sound system makes it possible to position sound in space and move it precisely. People could walk through our sonic model. All the installations I’ve made in the past have been stationary and needed a big technical effort and all kinds of preparation. FIELDS combines gaming and spatial composition in a most playful and also very important mobile way. When I got the invitation to work for this software, I immediately said yes because it was just something I was waiting for. “
About his piece, Drawing from Memory, Lippok says it is based on a sound experiment he did with students some years ago: We discussed imagining the sound. Sounds from memories, sounds from everyday life and unheard sounds. Later, we started to create sonic events with words, which we translated into some tracks. Drawing from Memory is a sonic interpretation of one of those sound/word pieces. FIELDS makes it now possible to unfold the individual parts of this composition and frees it simultaneously from its one-directional existence as a track on a CD. I should do this with all of my pieces. I see a snowstorm of possibilities.
With these two news apps Planeta is releasing, it feels more tangible where we are heading concerning sound composition; paradigms are changing, and these technologies will bring -as Robert Lippok thinks- a “snowstorm” of possibilities, many of these we still can’t even imagine.