This project was undertaken during 2002-2004 and was funded by Arts Council England and the Department of Trade and Industry’s ‘connexions’ scheme. Collaborators included the members of the Philharmonia Orchestra and a support team of engineers, programmers and administrative staff at De Montfort University.
The central research question was: how can an orchestra achieve an online existence? The project explored tensions between a live concert experience and a mediated internet experience. The project included: the development of online tools and resources; novel methods of presenting familiar information such as orchestration techniques, repertoire and history; the application of social networking models to orchestral music through virtual worlds such as the MusiMOO, user forums, and upload/download areas; and the creation of interactive sites such as the Random Round, the Net Symphony and Mood Music.
The main research strategy was to treat the orchestra as a group of human beings, rather than a collection of instruments and repertoire. This led to a social science influenced methodology involving structured interviews and recorded case-studies. There were three major published elements:
The research also encompassed several creative projects,
including original compositions by Hugill and others, that explored the use
of new media such as real-time streaming, Flash animations, Quicktime movies
and mp3 samples, in an orchestral setting. The project as a whole benefited
from access to the Philharmonia’s entire recorded legacy. Some of the
orchestral players took on hard programming tasks (such as Java applets, MySQL,
the educational aspects of the research.
The results were published by the Philharmonia Orchestra as The Sound Exchange http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/thesoundexchange/
The project was nominated for the BT Digital Music Awards in 2004, and continues to evolve and develop today, mainly through the creation of specially designed pathways to enable young people more effectively to navigate the educational content.
As a result of this project, Andrew Hugill was invited to be Guest Editor of Contemporary Music Review Vol. 24, Part 6, 2005 (Routledge) entitled ‘Internet Music’, and his article ‘From Online Symphonies to MusiMOO: Some Creative Uses of the Internet in Music and Education’ pp. 527-540 discusses both this and related projects.
The Orchestra: A User's Manual has atttracted worldwide atttention and is a link on many websites, including wikipedia. Here are a few of the testimonials received in the past year.