Maths and music make space for listeners in Florida

A remarkable combination of geometric maths and music making will see Brass Band of Central Florida provide listeners with a unique sonic experience over 23 acres this weekend.

  The maths behind it all makes for a thrilling musical experience

Brass Band of Central Florida will be exploring a very different area of music making for what will be their final public performance before their summer break.

This weekend (Saturday 15th June) they will present an innovative musical concept in collaboration with local composer and mathematician Keith Lay.

The Flower of Life

'The Flower of Life' is a composition in the form of 'distance music' — one that will see the band broken onto three separate groups in a huge 23-acre car park at Full Sail University in Florida, each with their own conductor.

Although each group will start the composition together on the sound of a coordinated electrical metronome signal from the composer, depending on where an audience member stands, their listening experience will be completely different — mathematically spaced by being a quaver or even a crotchet apart (as shown above).

Something new

Speaking about the unique sound experience MD Gareth Pritchard told 4BR: "We've performed Keith's music in the past, but this is, I think something new for all of us."

Gareth will conduct one group whilst his son Gavin and Kaleb DuBose will lead the others, for what quickly becomes an immersive experience that combines pure geometry with acoustic science.

'The Flower of Life' is named after a geometric configuration consisting of seven overlapping circles that have fascinated philosophers, architects, and artists for centuries.

Huge space

"Keith Lay brings this pattern to life over a huge area, employing it to shape not just the physical space but also the temporal dynamics of the music," Gareth added.

The music sees the band musicians joined by 'sounders', consisting of radio-controlled glockenspiels and train horns, carefully placed at key intersections of the geometric pattern and mathematically calculated to enhance the listener's engagement with the sound waves as they travel across the field.

With the radius of each band circle in the installation measuring exactly 271 feet, it requires about 236 milliseconds for sound to traverse it — perfectly matching the duration of an eighth note in 4/4 meter at a tempo of 127 beats per minute.

The science may sound like something more at home in lab, but out in the open its amazing. Listeners will encounter zones of perfect rhythmic alignment and areas where the sound scatters into thrilling, chaotic rhythmsGareth Pritchard


Gareth added: "The science may sound like something more at home in lab, but out in the open its amazing. Listeners will encounter zones of perfect rhythmic alignment and areas where the sound scatters into thrilling, chaotic rhythms.

Together it crafts a unique, interactive personal space for each attendee — like a huge multiplayer online role-playing game where your every movement and position alters your sonic environment."

He concluded: "We've had a huge amount of interest in the project and we can't wait to perform it. Each group is meticulously coordinated, guided by the lights and haptics of custom-built, radio-controlled metronomes.

We don't think there will be a public concert quite like it anywhere in the banding world this year!"

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