music to your ears?

life of lia

music to your ears?

Introducing the ‘Open Boat Orchestra’ – the concept behind my Barcelona World Race 2010 campaign. How the Open Boat Orchestra (OBO) will create music!

Neither the sails nor anything else onboard will make an actual sound. The sounds will instead be created digitally, using real-time load cell data. It is important to note that the data generated by load cells installed in existing Open 60s does not directly produce sine waves or audible sound. In the Open Boat Orchestra, the load cell data streams are what control an ensemble of pre-selected instrumental sounds. The boat moving through the water is thus the synthesizer.

The pitch and sound range of each source of monitored data will be assigned by an international recording artist, (to be announced shortly) so that when all the load cell instruments ‘play’ together, they sound harmonic. As for loudness, each ‘instrument’ will be paired with a speed variable – boatspeed, SOG, or windspeed.

The music of OBO will be a blend of World influences. As the boat races non-stop around the world, the sounds assigned to the load cell instruments will change. Down the Atlantic past Brazil, the boat’s instruments will become the sounds of instruments native to Brazil; when the boat sails into the longitude of Africa, African instrumental sounds will be brought into the orchestra.

The experimental edge to OBO lies in the unpredictability of what the boat will experience. We can’t predict what the compression on the mast versus the load of water on the keel as the boat crashes off a wave will sound like; whether one force will work against a sequence of others or one will ease on gradually as another declines. There could be periods of time, for example especially in a rough Southern Ocean where the music is loud and vivacious, while in the relative calm of the Southern Atlantic the music is wonderfully andante!

Subject to the forces of nature, every stage of the race will become as much a work of music as an adventure under sail.

What excites me, as a sailor is that we might be able to optimize the boat’s racing performance beyond what it is possible to see and feel, by listening into the music as it is being created. We should be able to hear if there is too much backstay or head-stay tension, for example and so be able to trim the boat accordingly.

The intention of the ‘Open Boat Orchestra’ is to share a round-the-world sailing experience with sailors and non-sailors alike, through a common language. By recording the physical journey as music, the experience of sailing as a whole, with all its nuances of acceleration, deceleration, inertia, momentum, and motion will become audible.

  • Open Boat Orchestra will be streamed online at set daily times, to create a live musical event that lasts for the duration of the race­ up to four months at sea.
  • Audiences will be able to track the Open Boat Orchestra on the OBO website (coming soon), as well as be able to create their own OBO online using off­the­shelf music software, such as Apple’s GarageBand.
  • Open Boat Orchestra will culminate in a live concert, where the round­the­world OBO soundtrack is the basis for a spectacular theatrical show.
  • The OBO project is being considered for a possible TV documentary, book and

In the coming months, the preparations pose challenges of their own – in securing all the necessary finance, signing a musician, refitting an Open 60 and undertaking a 2,800 qualifying passage with only one other.

The race to the start of the race is on!
Watch this space.

Lia Ditton.