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Moving beyond the auditory bubble: apps, gestures, and musical participation

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Publication date2013
Host publicationTEM 2013 : Proceedings of the Technology & Emerging Media Track – Annual Conference of the Canadian Communication Association
EditorsPhilippe Ross, Jeremy Shtern
PublisherCanadian Communication Association
Number of pages10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article examines users’ relationships to mobile devices, their surroundings, and music by concentrating on three interconnected aspects of some recent sound/music apps for the iPhone: 1) the way they suggest a form of musical participation that challenges the separation of listening and performance; 2) how they expand on musical performance gestures to involve larger-scale movements such as walking; and 3) how this occurs in public space. After briefly contextualizing the apps by looking at the player piano, which also blurs the line between playback and performance through gesture, I move on to consider the promotional discourse around the apps, particularly ideas of immersion and personalization. I argue the actual functioning of the apps potentially challenges these ideas as well as the notion of the auditory bubble that has been attributed to mobile music devices. I draw attention to the multidimensionality of gestures involved in the use of mobile devices and how gestures are interconnected with digital, physical, public, and private spaces.