Greek God Hermes inspires new music app

Issue date: 21 May 2012

On a theme of Hermes

The Greek God Hermes is the inspiration behind a new app called On a theme of Hermes designed by SATSYMPH who comprise UWE Bristol lecturer Philip Phelps, composer Marc Yeats and Bristol based poet Ralph Hoyte.

On a theme of Hermes is a context aware sound world for Android and iPhone Smartphones that will be launched on Saturday 9 June at MShed in Bristol from 10:00 to 16:00. The App will be available to download for free, and the creators will be on hand to explain what the app is and does; just bring your own headphones and smartphone to try it out on the spot.

An illustrated talk by the creators about the underlying technology and an approach to writing for this platform takes place at 14:00 on Saturday 9 June at MShed. There will also be a talk at the Arnolfini Auditorium from 19:00 on Sunday 10 June about the compositional challenges and potential of geo-located media. This will be followed by concert of contemporary classical music by Bristol Ensemble including Marc Yeats (with an introduction from the composer on the relationship of 'Tlos' to SATSYMPH's On a Theme of Hermes)

Philip Phelps explains, “When you start On a theme of Hermes an immersive sound world unfolds around you which is directly controlled by your own time-varying GPS co-ordinates, weaving together complex overlapping musical textures and spoken word recordings inspired by the Greek god Hermes - messenger of the gods, guide to the Underworld, patron of thieves, liars, of literature and poets and of people who travel across boundaries.”

On a Theme of Hermes is installed in three locations worldwide; two locations in the UK; Poole and Bristol, and Wroclaw in Poland. Here, the artists have sensitively composed On a theme of Hermes into the landscape using unique layerings, triggering behaviours and combinations of material that work only in these specific sites.

Excitingly, a portable version of the Hermes experience can also be accessed anywhere in the world you choose by going to a large open space, opening the app and following the on-screen instructions. Different to the site-specific installations above, the portable version of Hermes spreads in a radius around your position, throwing up unpredictable and serendipitous relationships to the chosen location.

On a Theme of Hermes has been joint funded by the Arts Council of England, Performing Rights Society for Music Foundation (PRSF), and LabCulture Ltd, also working with players from the Bristol Ensemble chamber orchestra, and developers at the Pervasive Media Studio as part of the Watershed in Bristol.


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