The Future of Electronic Music, DJ’ing, and the Immersive Concert Experience

This blog, more like a stream of consciousness, is an attempt to bring out the futurist in me. It is fun to speculate as to how the music experience can be a collaborative one, especially since deejay culture and music often invokes almost tribal-like sentiments.

Technology to sync songs, beats, and various tracks in a live setting is integral to the often seamless electronic music experience we enjoy at our local discotheques. Mashups and remixes are standard fare for your average house deejay who can put together the latest and hottest tracks in beautiful succession, with tight overlaps and timely bass drops.

I wonder when technology will get so advanced that the deejay is no longer the only one in on the craft. Imagine a concert experience where there is reciprocity between the deejay and the audience – while this already exists in some intangible sense through audience feedback and the deejay adjusting tracks accordingly, it would be a step further for the rhythms of the crowd  to be algorithmically calculated and fed back into the deejay’s equipment for further manipulation. Whether this is done through rhythm sensors or other technology, the room or environment itself would be able to calculate the intensity and motions of the crowd and feed the information back to the deejay to help provide music that would fit in unison with those dancing.

Usually it is the deejay who adjusts the rhythm and the crowd dances to the predetermined beat. In our little thought experiment though, once the general beat is established for a given track, the room would then pick up the nuances taking place on the dance floor and then help to mold the music to the specific circumstances at that moment. If a person in the crowd shouts, maybe the room picks up on it and throws out an effect or noise that would not normally be there. When many people start jumping up and down at a more bouncy section of the song, then maybe the bass increases its focus on a given frequency and really pounds at the speakers. A deejay could manually react in a similar way, but one person would not be able to keep up with the number of calculations a computer could automate in real-time and simultaneously across the entire environment.

To take this idea to another level, we could incorporate sensors throughout the music environment that have corresponding musical sounds. You lean against a wall or jump on the ground and then the force is measured and adds a musical embellishment synced to the beat of the song that is already playing. If a cluster of people form in one specific area of the room, the intensity of the sound is magnified in that area or there is an increased bass resonance filtered and targeted to that place in the room.

An environment that incorporates such advanced technology would be very expensive, but might also make for the most interesting club or concert environment one could immerse themselves in. A place where like-minded people dance the night away as if they too are on stage with the deejay. Check out the Emulator for Traktor Pro, arguably the coolest thing at the 2011 NAMM convention (according to popular house deejay Kaskade). The inspiration for more thinking on the future of electronic music and the live experience: