Screen shot from documentary of Garth Paine showing how his sytsem works using tablets.

ASU professor reimagines the concert experience


Sarah A. McCarty

ASU composer Garth Paine will premiere “FraKture,” a piece for symphony orchestra — and for smartphones — this Saturday as part of an ASU Symphony Orchestra concert at ASU Gammage. 

“This is to my knowledge the first work ever written for smartphones and orchestra where the sounds on the phones are performed live,” said Paine, professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “There will be three layers of sounds happening on the audience’s phones, all derived from the orchestral parts and expanding the orchestra literally into the hands of each audience member.”

In the piece, everyone is involved in the performance, creating “an experience that is both personal and communal at the same time,” Paine said. 

“FraKture” expands on Paine’s work as researcher-in-residence for the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) in France and the Center for Art and Media in Germany over the last three years to develop a system that allows him to perform sounds on the smartphones of the audience. 

“The research explores the roles of the audience and performer,” he said, “thinking ecologically about the emergent properties that are possible when the audience are critical to the realization of the work and where the audience-performer barrier is broken down.”

Paine is also sharing the research with students in his web audio class, which included a two-day workshop with the director of the Interactive Sound, Music and Movement research team at IRCAM. 

“The students are now learning how to compose with these new tools,” Paine said. “‘FraKture’ is a good way for them to see it applied on a large scale.”

In addition to reimagining the concert experience with “FraKture,” Paine said the piece reflects on climate change and the fracturing of communities and sustainable futures.  

“Through this exploration of communal ecosystems, ‘FraKture’ also raises questions about climate impact and our shared agency to respect and protect the planet on which we depend, now and for future generations,” he said. 

“FraKture” opens the ASU Symphony Orchestra concert at ASU Gammage at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20. The concert also features the premiere of Carlos Simon’s “Graffiti” — a collaboration with the Sol Power hip-hop festival — alongside a livestream of art created in real time by internally renowned graffiti artists. The second half of the concert begins with pianist John Solari, winner of the 2020 ASU Concerto Competition, performing Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” and concludes with Arturo Márquez’s “Danzón No. 2.”

Tickets are available for $12 at the ASU Gammage Box Office or can be purchased online at Ticketmaster (fees apply). All students with ASU, college, or school ID receive one complimentary ticket.

Megan Patzem and Lacy Chaffee contributed to this story.