Chicago Avenue Moon is a responsive, generative music app that gathers a set of variables including date, time, phase of the moon, and GPS location, and uses that data to determine how its music unfolds, in real-time. The piece is intended for a listener in motion, whose route and speed affect the composition.
Composer Joshua Dumas wrote 1000 brief musical phrases which the app manipulates, sequences, and layers to create trillions and trillions of variations, a unique experience with every listen.
He imagines the piece as a personalized soundtrack for strangers’ mundanities—an effort to help re-enchant a person’s daily commute, trip to the laundromat, or evening jog. The piece includes field recordings of his own walks around his neighborhood (Ukrainian Village in Chicago) in an attempt to bring his own experience of place in communication with others’, anywhere on earth.
Though the piece grapples with permutations of impossible scale and explores how limited materials can give rise to grand complexities, it has humble beginnings. During the hottest weeks of the summer, while conceiving and composing, Dumas would open the door of the studio, and from the piano would watch the moon rise over Chicago Avenue. To escape the heat, he’d walk around his neighborhood, imagining this music, his revery disrupted and inspired by the sounds from the street.
The app was developed in collaboration with Junecloud’s Mike Piontek, was recorded by Matt DeWine at Pieholden Suite Sound in Chicago, and was supported in part by an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Chicago Avenue Moon was performed by Josh Bell, Johnny Caluya, Kate Drown, Whitney Johnson, and Joshua Dumas, whose other projects include: Verma, Quarter Mile Thunder, Mar Caribe, Soundings, and Quiet Errors.