Music for the Masses

Daily Tous les Jours, a Canadian interaction design group, creates wonderful multi-disciplinary media projects in public spaces. According to the designers, the idea is to harness mass participation to create one-of-a-kind musical events. At the same time, they also totally change the character of public spaces, getting people to have fun.

The group just created 21 Balancoires, a “giant collective instrument” for Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles festival (see video above). For the piece, people swing to activate the music. They write: “When in motion, each swing in the series triggers different notes and, when used all together, the swings compose a musical piece in which certain melodies emerge only through cooperation.”


Daily Tout les Jours worked with Luc-Alain Giraldeau, an animal behavior professor from the Université du Québec à Montréal’s Science Faculty, to explore how cooperation really works and how to make it happen. Their research found that “cooperation emerges when the behavior of each individual depends on the decisions of the rest of the group: it’s a game where, from the start, you need to adjust to the actions of others.”

The giant swing instrument brought together people of all “ages and backgrounds,” redefining a public space by creating a new space for play in the middle of the city.

The groups’ other recent projects are equally as amazing, and pretty funny, too. For the Minnesota State Fair, the group created Giant Sing Along, which used a field of 32 microphones, welcoming attendees of the fair to “sing their hearts out, karaoke style, celebrating the magic of singing together.” In this mass singing experience, “participants connect with one another, building upon the contagion of this uplifting activity and sharing in a collective musical experience. Beyond beautiful voices, it’s about living a communal experience.” And it was designed to make everyone sound great: Apparently, sound processing software was used to “auto-tunes the voices, lightly adjusting the pitch and reverb so that anyone, even the ones less skilled at singing, can sound good.”

In Radio of Songs, which was presented at a festival in Berlin, a unique “capsule installation” captures our collective “ear worms,” those songs you just can’t get out of your head. “According to mores, there are two cures for ‘ear-worms’: either singing the song aloud or listening to the song.” Anyone passing-by could slip their heads inside and let out their inner Barbara Streisand or Neil Diamond. The songs are immediately collected using an “automated telephone system,” which visitors to the installation call to get directions on how to record their performances.

Lastly, one of their non-musical pieces worth highlighting takes the typical amusement park end-of-ride photo opportunity, but makes it urban. In Memorama, a series of observation platforms offer access to “hidden landscapes” where people can create their own postcards.

Presented during another cultural festival in Montreal, these platforms have camera systems that frame unique shots up above.

The photos are then immediately available via a web platform that enables sharing online.

Image credits: Daily Tout les Jours

2 thoughts on “Music for the Masses

  1. scientiste 04/05/2013 / 11:00 am

    Reblogged this on Mental Flowers and commented:
    Happy Friday everyone. Be sure to go out and play today. 🙂

  2. Greg 04/12/2013 / 6:10 am

    This is great it inspired me to write an article about experiencing landscapes at my site Arlington Landscape. I’m just a landscape designer, but I still try and design landscapes that inspire homeowners to come out and enjoy their yards more. Great article!

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