Making music together — complicated but rewarding

Lonely but celebrated. — Many of today’s digital music tools are aimed at people producing and presenting music alone (Image: iStock).

Making music together is, in our opinion, the most complicated form of music-making of all. “Solitary music-making” requires you to concentrate solely on your instrument and the sound. Making music together requires you to adjust to another person, be fault-tolerant, take criticism, and show a lot of attention and sensitivity.

Commercially successful digital music tools primarily empower people to make music alone. As a DJ, you stand alone on stage and wow the whole hall. You sit in front of a tablet or a computer and arrange and produce good-sounding music. So far, so good.

If, on the other hand, you want to make music together with another person, you have to put up with the other person playing a crooked sound. You have to listen carefully and take in the sound of the other person, adjust your playing and, above all, take yourself back. If everyone gives everything at the same time, it gets deafening. All in all, this is a complex cognitive process that can only be learned laboriously over time.

This process is worth it because, at the same time, all these things are social “superhero” skills. Empathy and showing consideration for others is good for oneself and one’s environment.

As lovely as independence and freedom can be, after months of lockdowns, weeks of quarantine, contact restrictions, and canceled performance opportunities, we realize how important community is and how wonderful it is to do things together. Joint actions are often very exhausting. But they reveal the quality of our relationships. And that is worth it.

A good community includes things to do together. One of the best ways we see to spend time together is to make music. So if making music together entails so many great things, how do you manage to convince your loved ones to do it? How can you win them over to dedicate their time to music, to coordinate their schedule with others? How can you make it more popular to make music together?

Digital music apps, in particular, offer new opportunities to give people without a musical background a relatively easy introduction to making music. For this purpose, tablets or smartphones are used, which are already an everyday part of our lives. For children, media competence can additionally be trained: Children learn that tablets are not only suitable for watching YouTube videos and chatting. They can also be artistically active on them and thus immerse themselves in entirely new worlds. Matthias Krebs from the Appmusik Research Centre has written a detailed article.

As a team, we are developing a new musical instrument with Audanika. It lowers the barriers to entry and, at the same time, broadens the musical horizon. Audanika is designed, so those experienced and less experienced players can equally participate in the standard playing. This is possible because music is hierarchical. There are fine structures, and there are coarse structures. The experienced musicians take on the intricate details while newcomers play the more prominent lines. Together, this results in a melodic sound that everyone enjoys. This makes it possible to have very different people making music together without one side getting bored and the other overwhelmed.

Illustration: Audanika offers new ways to approach making music together. (Picture: Audanika)

Supported by our District Administrator Petra Enders and funded by the federal program “Democracy Live,” we are currently testing the “social skills” of Audanika. For example, Jonas conducts Audanika music workshops in the mornings and afternoons at various primary schools in the Ilm-Kreis district and the parish of Gräfenroda/Geschwenda.

In the afternoons, he is on the road with the same target group, but in a completely different area, namely sports. For example, Jonas coaches children in inline skating and can thus draw a direct comparison between sport and music: “Inline skating usually requires people at the same level so that everyone can enjoy it. It’s hard to get into an existing group. With Audanika, on the other hand, it’s different!” he says: “Here, for once, Erik, a former special needs pupil who has never played a musical instrument, can make music together with Gabriel, the media technology graduate who has been playing the piano since he was four years old. What’s more, it’s fun for all of us, but also our listeners.

At various primary schools in Thuringia, we are gaining experience of how music-making can be organized with Audanika. (Image: Audanika)

In our example, Erik was able to play Amazing Grace on a small stage with us after only two days of practice. Jonas and Gabriel played the melody on Audanika. Erik observed which line they were on and then played one of the bright squares on the same line. The appreciation and applause strengthen Erik to this day.

Erik’s example shows that Audanika can unite different social groups, educational teams, and talent communities. We have a musical instrument that unprecedentedly develops this positive social effect of music. Audanika offers these new possibilities to integrate different people into making music together.

Despite different musical backgrounds, Biodun, Erik, Jonas, and Tim (from left to right) make music together on one stage (Photo: Audanika)

Suppose you would like to learn more about this topic. In that case, we invite you to subscribe to our Melodiebaukasten podcast on Youtube. Here Gabriel and Jonas report weekly on their experiences with Audanika in school classes (in German language). Below you will find episode #2, about making music together.

Be warmly invited to watch our Melodiebaukasten video podcast. Episode #2 is about the topic “Making music together” (Source: YouTube).

Authors

I’m Tim Stapperfenne, studying Applied Media and Communication Science at the Technical University of Ilmenau. The topics of corporate, product, and innovation communication inspire me. I met Gabriel at a Sunday service. Since then, I have been supporting him in his public relations work. I am supported by the European Union, the Free State of Thuringia, and Grace Cloud GmbH with a Thuringia scholarship. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn.

I am Gabriel, founder & CEO of Grace Cloud GmbH and inventor of Audanika. I am a passionate entrepreneur, software developer, musician, and Christian. I enjoy creating new things and collaborating with different people on an equal footing. As a husband and father of five lovely children, I have a heart for the upcoming generation. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

My name is Jonas Lepper. I studied traffic management and logistics at the State Academy of Studies in Glauchau. I am multiple German champion in inline speed skating. Through Audanika, I discovered my enthusiasm for music and now enjoy giving composition workshops in elementary schools. I am funded by the European Union, the Free State of Thuringia, and Grace Cloud GmbH as an Innovative Personnel. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn.

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