What is mobile music? – Mobile Music #5


While writing a post about the difference between mobile music and locative music I realised that I hadn’t defined what I meant by mobile music. I’ve been discussing different examples of what I’ve been calling mobile music but hadn’t been explicit about what this meant. I started thinking about it a bit and realised that I need to give a definition to avoid ambiguity.

Mobile Music is an ambiguous term. Do I mean music to move to or music that is mobile, like a marching band, or music for mobile phones? There are lots of ways the phrase could be interpreted. I did a quick search of mobile music which turned up a the Wikipedia Mobile Music entry. This describes mobile music as music streamed and listened to on mobile devices. This is not what I’ve been writing about, I looked to the top of the page and noticed “This article is about music on mobile devices, for the musical form see aleatoric music.” I clicked the link.

The description of aleatoric music seemed to be closer to the mark but not exactly what I mean. What I’m talking about when I say mobile music lies somewhere between these two definitions. I’m referring to indeterminate compositions that are composed to be listened to on the move. Music created specifically to be listened to while a listener is moving around that have some element of chance built into it so that it adapts to the listener and/or their environment.

Mobile Music is adaptive/interactive music composed to be listened to on the move. 

Works like Ambient Addition and Listen to the Light use different means to create their individual experience but they share a common thread. They take information about where the listener is or the sounds of their environment and use it to inform the music. The intention of each is to create a musical experience that adapts to the situation. Granted the term mobile music doesn’t necessarily convey all of this information. Until I find a more suitable term though I’ll continue to use it. If you can think of a more appropriate term let me know in the comments.