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Global Zen MIDI

It's an art thing.
  (+14, -8)
(+14, -8)
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(sparked by my annotation to Hippo's Dodgy Chimes)

A MIDI music file is played thusly:

Each time a note is activated, a random telephone number is called. When the phone is answered, the note is played over the phone line in the indicated instrument voice and for the indicated duration. When the note is finished, the phone connection is terminated. Each call is initiated according to the sequence and tempo indicated by the MIDI file.

"Hello?"
"<trumpet, A-flat (5th octave), two beats>"
"<click> <dial tone>"

"Oui?"
"<snare drum hit>"
"<click> <dial tone>"

and so on...

To prevent an enormous phone bill, the software could be configured to call only numbers within your free calling area. But to do this *right*, every phone number on earth should be included. (Data tones, busy signals, and unanswered calls would result in moving on to another number until the note could be played either to a person or an answering machine. Over time, the software would build a database of faxes and modems and eliminate them from its call list.)

Imagine knowing about the existance of such an art form, and getting such a call. Of course you wouldn't be able to enjoy the music per se, but wouldn't you try to imagine the music being distributed all over the world at that moment? It would certainly snap you out of the narrow focus of the immediate task at hand, and I think it would spark a magical feeling of being connected to all of mankind through the universal language of music.

[later] modification to accomodate concerns raised by DrBob & Protean:

For those who would regard such a call as an intrusion or an aggravation, a database of do-not-call numbers would be maintained.

beauxeault, Aug 10 2001

To waugsqueke with love http://greymatter.o...atanichamsterdance/
From El Pedanto [El Pedanto, Aug 10 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Random Number Chimes http://www.halfbake...m_20Number_20Chimes
GZM add-on. [phoenix, Aug 10 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       This reminds me of a character in one of the Douglas Adams "Hitchhiker" series who, being immortal and having access to time travel, decided to insult (in person) everyone who would ever live in the universe. Alphabetically.
phoenix, Aug 10 2001
  

       I second the motion by my esteemed colleague - waugsqueke. We need a committee - a focus group, I believe you teenagers call it these days.
thumbwax, Aug 10 2001
  

       Sorry beauxeault, old chum, but, as it stands, I hate this idea (mainly because I spend most of the day answering the phone) BUT if everyones phone could be remotely programmed to ring with the tone sent by the Zen Chimes, so that you heard the sound without having to rush off and answer the phone, then you'd get my croissant. Have a fishbone in the meanwhile!
DrBob, Aug 10 2001
  

       Perhaps I'm a philistine, but art that I can't "enjoy... per se" doesn't seem like art to me. It's a concept, I'll grant, but I think getting this phone call would would not "spark a magical felling of being connected to all of mankind", but rather confusion or annoyance at getting a single tone played and then a hang-up.
protean, Aug 11 2001
  

       [phoenix]: Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged. 'You're a jerk, Dent.'
angel, Aug 13 2001
  

       What a fertile ground for musical jokes this would be. After all, if no one hears more than one note, the composer could decide to make an utterly random hash of sounds and no one else need ever know. The publicity would tout the sublime power and glory of the melody, and urge everyone to savor their part in this masterpiece. beauxeault, this is unreal yet surreal, really.
Dog Ed, Aug 13 2001
  

       'Ah-ha', UnaBubba? You're not suggesting playing 'Take On Me' to the world, note by note, are you?
Guy Fox, Aug 13 2001
  

       The responses to your phonecalls should be played to your local audience too. So, as you play a tune on the keyboard, people around the world answer their phones and each hear an isolated note. Meanwhile your audience would hear the notes and responses mixed in (or maybe just the responses?) - this would be a confused babble of "Hello?...HELLO?", "Is anyone there?", "What's that noise?", "Is that you?", "Moshi-moshi?", "It's that bastard Global Zen MIDI again".
hippo, Aug 13 2001
  

       waugs, thank you very much.   

       DrBob, I feel your pain. For you and protean and the many others of the world who are oppressed by the phone, I've modified the idea to include an opt-out provision. However, I do believe there are some who are on the phone all day who might not opt out, valuing at least *one* call that would not be about "how come my sprocket doesn't work?"   

       Also, DrBob, I did in fact initially consider a mode where the tune was played on the phone's ring tone rather than over the phone line itself, primarily as a way to avoid a huge phone bill, but I decided against it because a) it seemed like too much of a wibni to assume the system could know the ring tones in advance, b) it would discriminate against those whose phones have a single, standard ring tone, and c) It wouldn't account for timbre, duration, and loudness very well.
beauxeault, Aug 13 2001
  

       For the opposite of this idea, to spread some low level evilness around the earth, how about "The macarena" or anything you want from Celine Dions back catalogue.
Little_Crow, Aug 13 2001
  

       ah: Yep. Yeaa.. i do like this much. some entirely typical event being used in a way to remind folks of, thee ah, Bigger Picture.
redundantly_redundant, Nov 25 2002
  

       what if they phone me for a trumpet note and i cant find my trumpet note maker?
clairepanda, Dec 08 2002
  

       some people just don't get conceptual art. but then, some art is better left in the concept stage. it's just not even necessary to go further with this gem of artistic genius. I myself have had ideas for conceptual art that unfortunately would result in felony charges, thwarting my creative talents, but artists have always been persecuted to some degree.   

       have to admit, next time i get a hang-up call i'm going to remember this column, so, what the hell it might as well have actually been the zen midi anyway.
kissing bandit, Sep 18 2003
  

       I like this idea because it appears to overcome one of the problems inherent in mixing Zen and music (as I understand it). Music only makes sense in terms of melody and rhythm - wherein the previous notes create an expectation of the future which the composer is free either to meet or to confound (depending on taste). The key point here is that they notes must be played back in a progression in time (otherwise it’s just a jumble). But in Zen philosophy, the passage of time is purely an illusion created by our flawed perception of the totality of everything which is in fact timeless.   

       Through your mechanism the 'music' exists (in the sense that the notes are played in sequence) from the perspective of the player, and yet from the perspective of the audience there is no music (although the informed among them may know that behind the scenes there IS). Thus you have created something which has the power to provoke, to be one thing and yet not to be it at the same time.   

       It’s also very frustrating - much like most of Zen thought. Well done (+)
dobtabulous, Nov 17 2003
  

       [bollocks]   

       for a number of reasons - the first being that any notion of rhythm will be broken up by the varying length of time it takes anyone to answer the phone.   

       Secondly, the idea that getting such a call might be interpreted as being a part of some fantastic happening is analagous to me getting excited about getting a call from someone flogging me double-glazing in that I know that someone else is going to get a similar call in the next five seconds or so.   

       Thirdly, the opt-out version would annoy the people who got called, but weren't able to opt out because they didn't know about it, while an opt-in version would destroy the zen-like (read random in this instance) nature of the phenomenon.   

       Fourthly, hearing a random MIDI note automatically generated by a computer whirring away in some basement does not a profound zen-like experience make.
zen_tom, Jan 10 2005
  

       Maybe this is what the dial-tone truly is.
RayfordSteele, Jan 10 2005
  

       This is good. Maybe not zen, but probably art.
wagster, Jan 10 2005
  
      
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