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Meet the Smartphone Orchestra: Video

- 8 years ago

The Smartphone Orchestra celebrates world premiere at renowned Dutch Festival, Lowlands, on Sunday 21st August 2016. Scroll to the foot of  this piece to watch the video clip

In a broad display of what can be achieved with smartphones, beyond making/taking calls and shooting pictures, thousands of Lowlands visitors collectively created a single, monumental work of music, composed especially for this occasion, using their smartphones.

Photo credit: Joao MB Costa

Photo credit: Joao MB Costa

A musical piece with every one of the smartphones involved making its own unique contribution, thanks to sophisticated technology and an entirely new method of composition. The Smartphone Orchestra makes a powerful riposte to the criticism so frequently uttered against smartphone use today. However, thanks to the orchestra, instead of a group of individuals each staring at his own telephone the crowd came together to experience a unique moment of collectivity. Proof that modern technology can bring people closer together.

Photo credit: Joao MB Costa

Photo credit: Joao MB Costa

This particular idea has existed for some time and the Smartphone Orchestra team had dedicated an entire year to programming, tweaking and testing the necessary technology prior to the event. However, the team had to grapple with many problems besides the technical challenges: they also needed to discover a new way of composing music. Writing for huge numbers of smartphone speakers requires an entirely new way of thinking.

Photo credit: Joao MB Costa

Photo credit: Joao MB Costa

The piece played at Lowlands is loosely inspired on minimal music, in which various patterns form a bigger whole when put together. Where traditionally musical instruments form the building blocks of a composition, in this case the ringtones and notification beeps of smartphones are the key ingredients. Following several test sessions at Oerol, with Spinvis, and at the Sonár Festival in Barcelona and with [none other than] Brian Eno nodding in approval, the team chose their time for the official premiere at Lowlands.


 Steye Hallema, initiator of The Smartphone Orchestra said to PhotoBite:

‘The smartphone is literally getting more and more “under our skin”. It makes a lot of things much easier, and I also make use of the advantages it offers. However, I regularly ask myself if it is healthy for us to be continually overloaded with information. Our brain also needs to be able to daydream and to “tune out”. This is why we wanted to reverse the operation of the smartphone and use it to get people to come together and share a wonderful experience. We are very proud that we were able to achieve something on this scale at the Netherlands’ most pioneering pop festival. It was an experience that I, in any case, will not quickly forget!’

Video clip below:


Promo video The Smartphone Orchestra


The Smartphone Orchestra has been made possible with financial support by The Ambassadors, the Creative Industries Fund NL, ‘Toekomstmuziek!’ (a program by Fonds 21), and the Performing Arts Fund NL.

Creative team:

Steye Hallema – Creative lead / composer

Marieke Nooren – Producer

Eric Magnee – Composer / sound design

Adrien Jeanjan – Creative technologist

Hidde de Jong – Creative technologist

The Smartphone Orchestra is a WildVreemd production.

Meet the Smartphone Orchestra: Video

About the author

Read Meet the Smartphone Orchestra: Video

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.