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Symphony in D: the symphony orchestra with the sounds of Detroit

Symphony in D was composed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and includes more than 15,000 sounds recorded and sent by the city’s community.

On 20 November the Detroit symphony orchestra played for the first time Symphony in D: a unique collaborative composition for the city of Detroit realised in two years by America’s most wired composer – according to the Los Angeles Times – Tod Machover, who already cooperated with artists like Peter Gabriel and Prince.

The orchestration, led by music director Leonard Slatkin, includes more than 8,000 sounds from the city of Detroit, recorded by its inhabitants and then selected and sampled by the orchestra: a real sound portrait of the city.

 

From the sounds of the factories in the suburbs of the city to those of parks, from People Mover to snowstorms, from rowing trainings to Belle Isle Park and farms in Michigan: more than 15,000 sounds – one hundred hours – sent through an application developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

Tod Machover symphony detroit
Tod Machover, composer and leader of the Symphony in D project

 

Before landing in Detroit, Machover had already worked on other “city simphonies”: in fact, he conducted these kinds of experiments for the first time in Canada (with Toronto’s Symphony), but also in Europe and Australia. When he wandered how Detroit sounds, however, he didn’t expect that the community was so active in helping him find the sounds of the city:

 

Detroit has an incredibly powerful story to tell right now, and it’s an important moment to be thinking about Detroit (…) And for a project like this, one of the cool things about music is you can convene people around a feeling or an idea, and they can share things that are really important to them. So it becomes a fantastic context for people to share things they care about, and in Detroit people really care about what’s happening and where the city is going.

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