A quartet is like a game of chess; simple in its make up and infinite in its possibility. So how can new technologies be used to augment performance of and engagement with chamber music? Our unique two-day musical hack, which puts an award-winning string quartet at the heart of its investigation, sought to find out.

In July 2013, Hack the Quartet broght together 20 talented and curious participants for two days to collaborate with the Sacconi Quartet to make a range of technology-driven explorations of the chamber music world. Questions we might seek to answer included:

‘How can we use sensors, cameras, projectors and other technologies to help the audience to listen more actively?’

‘How can we give an audience an idea of what it is like to be the performer of a piece?’

‘How can we meaningfully represent how a quartet collaborates and communicates whilst performing?’

‘How might we integrate technologies without them being distracting to the audience or damaging to the instruments?’

Of course we didn’t yet know what the Hack Day wouldproduce, but ideas could have ranged from projected heat maps of the quartet and their instruments to understand their physical reactions to performing, using binaural microphones to create an immersive aural experience or capturing and visualising the vibrations of the instruments.

Hack The Quartet was produced by Watershed, in association with The Sacconi Quartet, Bristol Old Vic and Universal Music Arts and Entertainment as part of Bristol Proms. The Media Partner was ClassicFM and was supported by Arts Council England.

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