Pluribus Kickstarter Campaign
San Francisco based music and art collective RFCL (Radio Free Clear Light) recently launched a Kickstrter campaign for Pluribus, their collaborative multi-user electronic music making process. It’s a unique music making tool that they’ve developed to enable a new type of artistic collaboration. RFCL's approach asserts that music-making is for everyone, not just trained professionals. Pluribus allows people of different musical abilities and backgrounds to create completely unique and original music together, producing sound structures that can only arise from multiple individuals working in concert.
RFCL has been producing music, installations, and visual artwork together in various configurations since 1995. At the core of the group stands El Salvador native Juan Carlos Mendizabal. With a Bachelor's of Music in music composition and electronic music from San Francisco State University and years of experience working with the software development tool, MAX, he is uniquely qualified to champion Pluribus. Along with his creative partners Etanna Zak, Lydia Harari and Max Abelev, RFCL most recently participated in the Electronic Pacific Satellite Show at Root Division in conjunction with SOMarts with a their multimedia installation entitled Na-tu-ra.
The collective’s most recent project, Pluribus, focuses on the cooperative creation of sound via electronic medium. Throughout history individual instruments have typically been controlled by one individual human mind. Even in a band or tribe, each participant takes dominion over one instrument and adds it to the group’s sound. In this way music is often synergistic; one person plays the drum, another the guitar, and so on. But with Pluribus, RFCL strives to take this concept of collaboration a whole step further.
Using the advantages of current technology, they make it possible for multiple minds to control a single instrument- for a single sound or voice to emerge from the efforts of a group of people.
Normally, a solitary musician is making at least three decisions whenever they play. They decide which notes to hit, the tempo and rhythm of those notes, and how loud to play them. With Pluribus, these decisions are spread among a group of participants. One person can focus on controlling the volume, another can focus on the rhythm, while yet another focuses on the specific notes.
In addition to the three decisions normally made by a single person, a musician has the ability to translate their vision into music, which requires a certain amount of skill; skill which is earned through years of practice and study. As the decisions required to create music are split up, a person with considerably less learned skill is able to contribute meaningfully to a complex piece of music. The relation between the creative vision and its fulfillment is simplified and the doors are open for raw musical creation to emerge.
Right now Pluribus can separate the music into three distinct decisions, but the implications are wide open. RFCL is working on splitting the decisions even further into scales, meters, tuning, timbre, envelope- there are limitless possibilities. Having had a lot of initial success with Pluribus, the group wants to develop the software further. They hope to eventually release Pluribus so that other groups of people anywhere can participate in experimental music collaborations like those they've been doing. In the short term, however, they have launched the Kickstarter campaign to propel their research along this line and produce a brand new album from the music they create with Pluribus.
Their goal is to obtain enough pledge support to purchase some much needed new equipment. To build on what they’ve already constructed as well as expand on what they’re able to achieve, the collective needs two higher-end desktop computers, monitors and keyboards for expanding the musical elements they can control independently along with the number of people who can participate. They also intend to purchase two additional music 'controllers' and a new music software license from MAX, the programming platform they used to build Pluribus. In addition to the equipment, the Kickstarter campaign will also help cover the cost of manufacturing the new CD that will result from their experiments with Pluribus.
As the campaign progresses, RFCL has and will continue their work on Pluribus with the resources they currently have at their disposal. The results of this work are being posted on their Kickstarter page