Critical Assessment

A complete critical assessment of the TAM app undertaking will require real life testing when the app is released in September 2022. Pre-tests with the finished app are planned for July and August. Online polls and small focus groups can provide insights into usability questions. I’ll limit myself to reflecting on the creation process and the exchanges with the musicians and give some personal reflections on the potential audience of music apps. In the process section some of the following points have been discussed in more detail.

Creator perspective

Adaptive audio is there to stay and offers challenges and opportunities for the composer and performer, away from the linear constraints of composing music. The aleatory, chance related functions and features will become powerful assistants in composing and performing.

Research lead me to explore karnatic development, although it will take months and years (I’ll add a second year of lessons in 2022/2023) to get a solid grasp on the theory and possibilities the groundwork is there to apply these knowledge to generative electronic and more exploratory music.

Other tools would have led to more experimental results e.g. MAX by Cycling ‘74 re Pure Data which is designed for advanced audio manipulation but the FMOD audio engine combined with the Unity Game engine gave me the guarantee to be able to release a finished product. MAX packages and apps can be created and distributed but they don’t reach the user experience of native apps and most of all they cannot be ported to mobile devices or the internet at this time. The Unreal game engine with sequencing possibilities and evolution on iOS is interesting because it brings a set of synthesis and audio manipulation tools.

To put it very bluntly: “Is all this effort for a 3 minute pop song worth it “. Considering the way pop music is produced1 today on an industrial scale with industrial processes this questions is worth asking.

The potential of generative music is also genre dependent. Brian Eno’s ethereal music is probably more adapted to the generative music process then groove based music.

In was difficult and in some cases even impossible to break out of the loop mold. Advanced rhythmic techniques require a rerecording of every instrument except if you opt for electronic sounds only. Despite these inherent limitations from the FMOD tool the TAM app is a unique opportunity to explore all available options for one simple reason: in this project I am not limited to heavy audio compression or by having to take care of performance issues with sound and music. In standard video games, and this includes 99,9% of them, game performance comes first. Audio and sound are ranked second and this means using heavy compression to reduce file size and. This is not the case here because the visual media content consists of a three minute hand drawn video with minimal color information. The interactive parts are all timed and the user only has a short window of opportunity to interact with the material.

Copyright is also a domain that hasn’t been tacked in this research. The question of registering the souvenir shop song is still an open one.

Pertinence for the TAM project

Audience Perspective

One open question concerning the audience and the app as the marketing tool is: will the motivate the audience to listen repeatedly to the same 3 minute Souvenir Shop tune? Will they notice the differences?

The originality of the TAM app reveals also it’s weak point. Today’s audience have high expectations when playing video games or interacting. This is one reason to limit interactions to a few seconds, by taking away options.

Summary

To conclude I’ll add the following points:

  • A complete critical assessment from the audience perspective will require real life testing when the app is released in September 2022.

  • Other tools would have led to more experimental results e.g. MAX by Cycling ‘74 re Pure Data but again publishing format is key.

Despite these limitations this research was a unique opportunity to explore all available options: in this project I am not limited to heavy audio compression or by having to take care of performance issues with sound and music and could focus on.

  • Research lead me to explore karnatic development and experiment with an electronic music approach although it will take more time to get a solid grasp on the theory and possibilities, the groundwork is there to apply these knowledge to generative electronic and more exploratory music. Live coding is next.

Astrid Old Men Exiting


  1. Seabrook, J. (2015). The song machine: Inside the hit factory. WW Norton & Company. ↩︎