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The Blue Grotto 2018 | Planning a Music Production to Dynamically Hack the Space

Expertise

Music Production Project / Sound Design / Integration of Sound and Light Systems / Composition and Arrangement of Music

Outline

Planning and Producing a ‘Sound-Scenic’ Music Performance with Approximately 600,000 Light Bulbs Illuminating a 400m Zelkova Tree-lined Avenue, Coordinated with Piano Music.

Designed and executed a captivating production in a vast space visited by around 2.8 million people, aiming to create a seamless integration of sound and light for a truly immersive experience.

Process 1. Proposal for a Music Production Concept Hacking the Space: Project Planning / Experience Design

At the inception of the project, there was a challenge of creating a unified experience of sound and light for an event expected to have the usual crowd congestion.

Facing this, Lada proposed a production method where live piano performance would be synchronized with the dimming of tree illuminations. From music arrangement to coordination with the dimming system, Lada planned and designed the entire experience, ensuring a cohesive integration of sound and light that could be appreciated by all attendees, even those unable to directly witness the performance.

Process 2. The synchronization system between the piano and the 400m tree-lined illumination.

We enabled the control of tree lights by MIDI signals from an electronic piano, with both audio and MIDI outputs. By converting MIDI signals to DMX, the dimming of tree bulbs could be precisely controlled by the piano’s MIDI signals. Each key on the piano was linked to an individual tree, creating a dynamic correlation where the movement of keys directly influenced the lighting of the corresponding tree. The design went beyond mere key movement, incorporating changes in overall light intensity based on the density of the music. This allowed for a nuanced interplay between the dynamics of piano performance and synchronized variations in lighting, enhancing the overall musical experience.

Process 3. The musical arrangement to bring out the effects of the system and production.

The consideration of maximizing the effects of the lighting production through the actual light reactions to the performance, and checking the real-time light responses, was conducted in a lab space where a simplified miniature replica of Shibuya’s tree-lined avenue was created, resembling the actual setting. The piano performance took place in this environment, allowing for a live assessment of the light reactions. Discussions with the dimming system programmer occurred concurrently, progressing the musical arrangement in tandem with the ongoing discussions and observations.

Given the unique setting where light played a significant role in the performance, special directions were necessary for the live pianist. Being able to understand the system design and align the musical arrangement with it, from composition to directing, allowed us to fully unleash the potential of the production.