5500: performance, control, and politics

Laurenzo, Tomas

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

In the period between June 2014 and June 2015, at least 5,500 immigrants died trying to reach Europe from Africa while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In this paper we present 5500, a piano performance that is a part of an on-going project that investigates the incorporation of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) into musical performances, with a particular interest in the political significance of the negotiation of control that arises. 5500 consists of a performance of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique, where the pianist’s execution is disrupted using computer-controlled electrodes which stimulate the muscles in his or her arms causing their involuntary contractions and affecting the final musical result.