STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: JUNE 2015

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you a story about the journey that got us here.

This is the final chapter of ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Download Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app on Thursday 9 July for free!

The Race to the Finish Line June 2015

Rather like commissioning a new piece of music, there comes a point where a composer simply has to submit the score or there won’’t be time to rehearse it before the performance. Getting to the point where we all feel happy to submit our app to Apple feels quite stressful. But we are in a strong position, and we have now built numerous Beta versions. All the other in-app content is in situ and suddenly it looks like it is nearly ready! We are a few weeks behind but Nesta say we are within the acceptable margin of error for a digital product launch. We presented the app publicly at Southbank Centre’’s Web We Want festival and we will present it again at London Technology Week. We are managing to think about more fun things too, like making T-shirts with our cool designs.

Reich in Glasgow APP (c) Tim Morozzo 0924 We have frequent team meetings splitting into mini groups to revise gameplay, marketing, proof-reading, video layouts, and as the Project Manager I can sense the adrenaline pumping through the team. We are relying now on real-time iterations and instant turnaround for feedback. If you take your eye off your inbox for half a day you are already out of the loop.

So we are starting to think ahead to some of the live events that we are planning for the summer, including a live workshop at Southbank Centre on Saturday 1 August, where anyone can join us and London Sinfonietta percussionists to show off their new Clapping Music skills. It should be fun! We’ll release more details of how to join in nearer the time. So keep following us on Twitter, Facebook, and most importantly, download the app for free on Thursday 9 July!

STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: MAY 2015

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you a story about the journey that got us here.

We’ve been releasing ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Sign up at www.clappingmusicapp.com to receive notification when the app goes live.

Meeting Steve Reich – May 2015

After years of planning and months of hard work, the time had finally come to take the prototype of the app for sign off from the composer himself. We are proud of what we have built, but will he like it? Throughout the entire process we have been driven by the desire to create something that has value and meaning in a style that would be true to the music and most importantly, loyal to Steve Reich and minimalism. Every decision from font to colour,  game design, filming style and brand has been made with this in mind.

And so Andrew Burke and James Joslin from the London Sinfonietta find themselves in a hotel lobby early on Bank Holiday Monday, armed with a film crew, the app on an iPad and presentations on a Macbook about our research project. The London Sinfonietta has a long-standing relationship with Steve Reich, having performed and commissioned his works over many years. Two hours fly by, and not only does he like the concept of the app, but he makes constructive suggestions on how it could work. And there is that growing sense in the conversation that this app could be just the start in reaching many more people with his energising and powerful music. We capture Steve on film talking about Clapping Music, Electric Counterpoint and much more. You will be able to watch all this wonderful footage on the app or on microsite once it’s launched.

Reich in Glasgow APP (c) Tim Morozzo 0911

Now, the final furlong – of getting the app finished and all the research elements in place to see what impact the project has on people who use it.

STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: APRIL 2015

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you a story about the journey that got us here.

Over the next few days we’re releasing ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Sign up at www.clappingmusicapp.com to receive notification when the app goes live.

Understanding Progress  April 2015

““We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”” C. S. Lewis

The app is at Alpha stage and we are testing it remotely with volunteers and getting feedback through our carefully designed Google Docs questionnaire. We also have another fun evening of testing at Kings Place with more volunteers. A lot of the feedback is positive but some of the volunteers don’’t like it. They want to know how to win the game –and they are frustrated because it’s quite hard! So we have devised a way for you to spend time in what we will call ‘practice mode’, which should help you improve your skills and get higher scores. In contrast, some of our young volunteers seem to find it too easy. And therein lies a problem. One of the biggest challenges for this project has been to get the difficulty levels within the game right. What one person finds easy is hard for another. Slower is not necessarily simpler. Eventually we will need to make a decision on this algorithm, but for now, it’s back to the drawing board again.

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In the meantime, as well as building the game we are creating a fantastic learning resource for users to find out more about Steve Reich and his music. We are very excited because over the last few months we have created some beautiful in-app videos to explain Clapping Music and another of his works, Electric Counterpoint. GCSE music teachers share this excitement because it is on the music syllabus. Through articles in teaching magazines and a mass dissemination of information to all schools, we hope our young audience all over the world will find this digital doorway a fun way to explore the composer and his music.

STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: MARCH 2015

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you the story of our journey to this point; we’re releasing ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Sign up at www.clappingmusicapp.com to receive notification when the app goes live.

Be a #ClappingMusicApp volunteer and win £50! – March 2015app

Research on this project is absolutely integral to the core purpose of our work. It drives the creativity because it poses the two crucial questions: can we teach rhythm through a mobile, digital app? And can this lead to a wider engagement with an artform?

Our Queen Mary University of London partners are constantly working with our Touchpress team to ensure that we are building the right data collection analytics into the app. This is a complicated process and not only does it need to be integrated, it also needs to be tested. So as a team we are all playing the Alpha game to test for functionality as well as creating lots of lovely data, so our researchers can check that we are using the right platform to capture the right information for their study.

Everyone who plays the game will have a unique user ID through which we can track in-app behaviour. This enables us to analyse whether their rhythm is improving, whether they are clicking through to other parts of the app where they can learn more about the composer and whether they are clicking through to iTunes to download music by the composer. It’s all really valuable information.

But there’’s more! Our researchers are recruiting volunteers of all ages and abilities to play the game over a six week period and then complete three 20 minute questionnaires from July to August 2015. You can enter into a draw to win a £50 Amazon voucher if all three questionnaires are completed and submitted. If you would like to be involved, please e-mail the Queen Mary University of London team at clappingmusicresearch@gmail.com

Barbara Palczynski

STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: FEBRUARY 2015

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you the story of our journey to this point.

Over the next few days we’re releasing ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Sign up at www.clappingmusicapp.com to receive notification when the app goes live.

Nesta: A Firm but Fair Headteacher – February 2015

With all the feedback from the testing, and the advice about marketing, the Touchpress team is working its magic to get us from Prototype to Alpha, and all is quiet on the western front. This gives me some time to think about our next milestone. As a proud recipient of a Nesta Digital R&D grant, we must adhere to their strict rules. Nesta are like a firm but fair headteacher. They enforce these milestones to help you deliver your project on time. Without them, it’s easy to see how projects can spiral in different directions. Our team is working really well together so collecting the evidence for the milestones is straightforward, and the extra groundwork that we put in earlier in the process, to establish realistic goals for each milestone, was well worth the effort. IMG_3317 At around the same time, we all attend another Nesta Learning Day, where we meet lots of other projects and hear about successes and failures. Nesta like projects to make friends and Rohan Gunatillake @rohan_21awake, our wonderful Learning Manager, has devised lots of activities involving post-it notes, multi-coloured sharpies and little love heart stickers, because it’s nearly Valentine’’s Day and we can feel the love. It feels like a fun away-day, then on the central line on my way home I get to wondering how to convince arts organisations of the value of R&D. That’’s when I realize I am an arts R&D convert!

Barbara Palczynski

STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: JANUARY 2015

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you the story of our journey to this point.

Over the next few days we’re releasing ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Sign up at www.clappingmusicapp.com to receive notification when the app goes live.

Media Mashers – January 2015

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Confucius

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Around this time, it occurs to us that although we seem to be on track to build a really super product, the time has come to make a plan to get our product out there. Marketing an app is really quite different to marketing a concert. We are aiming to get 20,000 downloads so we can get the data for our research. So we decide to recruit a Digital Marketing Consultant, to help us shape a Digital PR & Marketing strategy. She comes from planet Nintendo, and again, like Alice in Wonderland, we find ourselves in a strange world learning new words like Media Mashers, Media Munchers, Generation C, influencers, multipliers, KPIs. We want our users to compete for the highest score so they can enter a competition to come and perform with us live. How amazing is that prize?

IMG_3356Defining your target audience and knowing how to reach them has become the focus of our attention. The London Sinfonietta’s aim is to bring new music to new audiences, and through digital technology, we know this app can deliver so much to so many people. Not only do we hope to teach rhythm and to teach Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, but we also want to know whether the app would ultimately engage people more widely with this genre. So we start to plan and prepare the other areas of our app. We need content, videos, information, links, interviews and our workload doubles overnight!

Barbara Palczynski

STEVE REICH’S CLAPPING MUSIC APP: DECEMBER 2014

In the lead up to the launch of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music app, we’d like to tell you the story of our journey to this point.

Over the next few days we’re releasing ten blogs by project manager Barbara Palczynski, charting the ten months it’s taken to turn ideas into reality.

Sign up at www.clappingmusicapp.com to receive notification when the app goes live.

Prototypes and Testing – December 2014

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The vocabulary of digital product development employs a lovely word: iteration the repetition of a process, in our case, making versions of digital software. You could also apply this word to describe some minimalist music. And so we have produced our first iteration of the #ClappingMusicApp. Hurray!

Apart from the small matter of only being able to download this if you have an iPhone or iPad running iOS8, we are now the proud parents of a digital baby. You have to tap the screen along to a pulse which varies from basic patterns through to the Steve Reich Clapping Music score. And so it came to pass that in the week before Christmas, we gathered in a room in Kings Place and unleashed this prototype on willing volunteers, with plenty of juice and biscuits.

We learned so much! From what people find easy or difficult, to how intuitive the prototype was and how people hold their devices. And right there, we started to make a new list of all the things that we wanted to change, to satisfy our desire to perfect the game. Our creative thinking started to flow again because we were all so excited by the sheer addictiveness of this very simple game.  And the most important thing we learned was that people like it!

Barbara Palczynski

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