Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Schiemer, G. M. (2008). Mandala 7 for 16 mobile phones [Performance]. National University of Singapore, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore.

Link to conference program here.



Research Background
Mandala 7 was composed by writing scala and java software that allows microtonal music to be performed using mobile handsets. It is a 24-minute performance produced by an ensemble of 16 mobile phones appropriated as devices for sound diffusion. Each player activates a sound before swinging their handset for the duration of the sound.

Research Contribution
Mandala 7 uses a generic consumer device to explore the nexus between harmony and timbre. It focuses on major and minor tonalities present in a 35-note per octave microtonal scale, one of a class of atonal scales generated from prime harmonics using a Combination Product Sets method devised by contemporary tuning theorist Erv Wilson. In performance selected keys activate sustained triads where amplitude envelopes gradually cross-fade between two of the three notes in each triad. Microtonal textures gradually evolve throughout as odd-numbered players activate sounds built on major triads (ie. based on harmonics 4-5-6) while even-numbered players activate minor triads (ie. 10-12-15). Unlike conventional mains-powered electronic music performances, sound projection relies on movement of untethered low-powered sound sources and the use of microtonal clusters to activate sympathetic resonances within the space.

Research Significance
Mandala 7 continues pioneering development begun with a Discovery Project in 2003 and was created during a Visiting Research Associate Professorship at the National University of Singapore’s Interactive and Digital Media Institute. Its premiere performance was given in the foyer of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory as one of six In-Conjunction Events at the 2008 International Symposium of Electronic Arts.