We had a great start to our first week-long meeting in Belfast. Chris brought a Max/MSP patch that he’s been working on which generates arpeggio-based loops — we will use this as the basis for the sound synthesis in the musical selfie app. Pete had programmed a basic photo app for mobile phones, using OpenCV and Open Frameworks. Thus, our first selfie was born, which you can see in our first post.

We had some very fruitful discussions on the purpose of the musical selfie app, its intended audience (we’d like to keep this as broad as possible), and the conceptual dimensions of the project. The app might be used in musical pedagogy, since it relates basic concepts of rhythm, timbre, pitch, and tonality in an intuitive way. It could also be conceived as a tool for facilitating a daily practice of music making. Having a musical selfie app that allows users to post very brief musical ’snapshots’ online also disrupts dominant ideas about listening. Musical listening typically entails a much more involved process than the ‘browsing’ mode of listening this app will facilitate — a casual mode of listening that is perhaps more appropriate to the social media age in some ways.

We discussed the relationship between the musical content and the associated photograph, and how this might inform the functionality of the app. We also discussed the use of presets, hashtags and how to handle different categories of selfies.

Pete had the idea that our project could serve as a kind of umbrella project within which many different apps could be programmed, highlighting different dimensions of ‘selfies’ and offering different kinds of functionality.

One of our concerns is how our software might be used in performance contexts, or even exhibition/installation contexts. Another concern is how users will share the musical selfies, and  how they will collaborate in the process of creating collaborative musical selfies, i.e. similar to creating a collaborative photo book online, but with the additional musical dimension.


We had a fun discussion on branding of the app, which we are leaning towards calling VanityMusic. Of course this name is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but we would like to keep our own opinions of selfies to ourselves (…). We note that people have a very strong reaction (usually negative) to the idea of selfies, and yet they are fascinating and compelling on multiple levels.

We discussed the merits, or lack thereof, of the ‘belfie’…