Poeme Rhythmique: Concerto for Computer Mouse (2011)

The project is ongoing and currently work in progress.
Below is documentation from a workshop and mini performance with 10 children (age 5-9) as part of the Aldeburgh festival June 2011.
Final target is a live performance with 100 children.

An ongoing project and collaboration between artists Memo Akten and Mira Calix. “Poéme Rhythmique (for 100 Children)” is a sound and light composition exploring the nature of complex patterns created from the interaction of multilayered rhythms, and questioning our notion of conventional musical instruments. It is inspired by György Ligetiʼs “Poéme Symphonique for 100 metronomes” and Edgar Varèseʼs “Poéme Electronique”.

A composition is written specifically for the computer mouse as an instrument, and performed by one hundred children via a specially designed computer game. The game is designed such that the ʻlevelsʼ are the composition score, and the act of playing the game is the vehicle through which the composition is performed, the musical instruments being the mice. Each performer is seated at a computer, playing a custom video game designed to execute the composition. The game is the score. While playing the game, the rhythmic mouse clicks of the 100 performers are amplified, mixed and spatialised. The piece is presented to the public in the form of a sound and light installation, and live performance. The character of every individual performers’ gameplay creates a unique rendition of the piece.

The project consists of three facets: an educational workshop (allowing children to learn about contemporary composers such as Ligeti and Varese, and also investigate their sense of rhythm, develop hand eye coordination and explore their ability to work collectively), a sound and light composition, and finally a performance by the children playing the video game.


Made possible with support from
Aldeburgh Music and Faster Than Sound: LAB
with thanks to
Annie Clark and children from Middeleton and Peasenhall Primary, Suffolk
Jonathan Reekie, Bella Scarr and Philipa Rieve from Aldeburgh Music
our volunteers, Chris, Sam and Ed
Joana Seguro, Dirk Van Dijk, Ersinhan Ersin, Jane Laurie, Ben Blundell, Andreas Muller, Daniel Hirschmann, Jana Chiellino, Bruce Atherton
and the great people behind
openFrameworks, Arduino, Processing, tinker.it