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Collective Music Experiment


Collective Music Experiment (CME) is a citizen science experiment by the BIFI of the University of Zaragoza, Socientize and Ibercivis.

Is the collective able to solve a given complex problem which is unsolvable for individuals? Is the collective more creative than the most talented of their members?
To address these questions we launch CME, a participatory research action to provide new knowledge of the ways by which large-groups of individuals produce creative results collectively. Our challenge is to exploit the power and the passion of the music-based community in action. 
CME has been defined with two differentiated approaches. On the one hand, the graphical front-end and the music conceptualization are designed with the focus on the user’s experience highlighting the importance of aesthetics for new ways of engagement. The website interface consists of two audio sequencers: one is editable by the users allowing them to generate, to play and to edit music patterns. And the other sequencer allows participants to see in real time the patterns of their neighbors so that people can reuse best parts by selecting and incorporating them into their tunes. This information exchange is done with a simple drag&drop of the guitar bass lines or drum rhythms composed using the audio samples provided by the musicians.
On the other hand, we have constrained the topology of system to allow us to analyze the behavior of the collective. We will create a square lattice network with the registered users where each participant bidirectionally connects to all of its nearest four neighbors. In a first phase of the experiment we restrict participants to interact i.e. share and select music patterns, with their nearest neighbors. In a second phase, the system allows interactions by everyone with everyone with the aim of catalyzing one single emergent solution. In order to decrease the complexity of the overall process, we anonymize the whole process removing issues like trust, reputation or notoriety in the hyper-connected society.
CME merges on-location research within the Festival and the virtual scenario that allows global practices for real data gathering on the large-scale network. It also bridges the gap between experts and amateurs mixing theory and practice. We will analyze the knowledge creation, the information selection and the self-evolution of the societal intelligence, trying to understand the social practices of innovation and more specifically the networked practices of individuals for the music development process. Collective music composition will occur in cascades driven by a positive feedback dynamic linked with the exchange of patterns. These evolutions are supported by the capacity of participants to generate and re-use ideas so the dynamics of CME are emergent, complex and unpredictable. We will address these relationships with a interdisciplinary approach including mechanical statistics and evolution theory approaches. All the knowledge generated, data, models and methods will be available with open access for future research. Expected outcomes could serve to understand other innovations process which can be found in emergent social, technological, economical or political transformations.
CME uses musical language aiming to get closer to the mainstream means of communication and, as a consequence, to enrich both the outreach and data gathering processes. In addition, CME also provides the opportunity to the amateurs to be mixed by the artists R de Rumba and Miguel Angel Mercadal for their live show in the Sónar+D exhibition presenting the results of the experiment. CME website features the visualization in real time of the network structure and dynamic and individual patterns can be downloaded by the users. The whole process is documented with a mini-documentary, raising awareness of the values of collaboration practices and citizen science.
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