Reading Response #7 to Artful Design • Chapter 7: Social Design “”

Aaron H.
Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

Chapter 7 is one of my favorite chapters I read this quarter. The social aspect of music is something I’m always striving for when creating compositions. Principle 7.6 touches on this point highlighting that we should “value participation (and design for it)”. There’s nothing quite like getting the audience involved and breaking down the barrier of who the performer really is. In my drumming group, I got the chance to experiment with this through a body percussion piece that I composed. In the middle of the piece, I instructed the crowd how to contribute to the music. I went around to each section of the auditorium and instructed mid performance what each person should do. The right side stomped the ground on 2 and 4, the middle shouted “Veritas”, and the left side clapped a syncopated beat. While this was going on, everyone on stage had another rhythm that complimented what the audience was doing. The synergy between us and the crowd was unbelievable, and it always amazes how fast the audience was able to pick things up. I’m hoping to create more pieces like this and engage in a way that facilitates a similar environment.

I did want to comment about the chapters takes on anonymity leading to people being more genuine about their feelings of performance. I have become weary of this sentiment having gamed online with random players all the time. I’m not sure if this is a more recent shift in culture, but anonymity online has led to a lot of toxic behavior due to the lack of accountability. Instead of getting genuine feedback, many online players resort to raging and obscene language that hardly is helpful to anyone. There’s constant trolling such as throwing a game by not playing or smurfing as a more experienced player by creating a low-level account to compete with new players to the game. I think it’s nice to see a positive example of anonymity shown through the leaf trombone. The encouragement to perform in front of others I think could be very useful to overcome anxiety and insecurities. I could see it however working the other way where individuals who are judging others use their anonymity to tear others down. I’m not too sure yet how the right balance for this is created. Maybe there is a way to disincentivize toxic behavior that goes beyond censorship, and more is a reflection of the environment that the game creates. I really hope that these considerations are brought more to the forefront to provide better communities for all online.