It was clear that beyond the concept and writing the music, I was going to require technical expertise beyond my capabilities, so brought in Electromechanical Music Technologist Jay Harrison whose marvellous lithophone I'd seen in action at Machynlleth Comedy Festival earlier in the year. Using accelerometers, Max-MSP software and his maths and physics genius he made the balloons sense the strikes of bounced rubber balls which in turn would mute or unmute an instrumental section of the virtual 'orchestra' conducted by the audience-participants.
The music I composed for this installation was to be fun, generally upbeat and compelling. I used a combination of real guitars (classical and electric) and VST instruments recorded on to a DAW, including brass and string sections, piano and drums. Each instrumental section was controlled by the relevant helium balloon. While the music was going to be contemporary in aesthetic, I thought it'd be useful given the intention of creating a piece of 8-12 minutes duration to have a solid structure behind it, so I thought it'd be fun to turn back to the much more formalised music of the 18th century and give it the structure of a miniaturised Classical symphony. The result was a 9 minute piece of three concurrent movements: the first medium tempo in sonata form, followed by a slow movement in triple time ternary structure, finishing with a faster final movement in rondo form. Within this I melded a cinematic, orchestral pop piece with a swing jazz beat and syncopated pop rhythms, whose texture and dynamic could be altered by ball throwers, bringing instruments in and out at their whim.
We had lots of very positive comments in the book, from "Really really fun and good" from Millie, age 3 to "Like a kid again, age 75 yrs". Over two days The Sonic Balloon had 1002 participants.
We are currently putting together a video trailer before putting it out to music and community arts festivals across the country and beyond.