By my calculations, there are 1.5511210043 × 1025 songs available on In Bb 2.0, a collaborative music project spearheaded by Darren Solomon from Science For Girls, which I’m gonna go ahead and show that I’m not a musical omnipotent presence and say I’ve absolutely never heard of. Regardless, with In Bb 2.0, Mr. Solomon has hit on something wonderfully elegant and gorgeous. (For the record, my figures are probably really damn wrong. I just calculated 25!, which, I mean, sounds about right. Mathlords, feel free to correct me. Or not. To paraphrase the immortal words of Mr. Whitney Houston, it’s your prerogative.)
You like this buried lede? You know you do. Here’s what In Bb 2.0 is all about. It’s 25 video clips of various performers playing different instruments in the key of Bb. They are user-triggered. That means, when I navigate to the site, I can pick and choose which ones play, when.
Most of the clips operate in the same vein, with performers opting for ambient textures over concrete melodies. That’s a blessing, since none of the performances dominate the proceedings, and the user can layer at will without making something sounding overly busy. The results, though I have admittedly only heard a minuscule fraction of them, become a subtly engaging ambient piece that lasts as long as you, the user, want it to.
In Bb 2.0 is a fundamentally user-controlled musical endeavor, more akin to an instrument than an album one passively listens to. Even though you may just be clicking randomly to begin with, due to the brief nature of the video clips, it’s virtually impossible to listen to In Bb 2.0 for any given period of time without tending to it. With apologies to Ron Popeil, you can’t set it and forget it.
With my first In Bb 2.0 experience, I started hesitantly, triggering videos more or less at random. Like one’s first experience with any tool for music-making, my first clicks were ones of discovery. I would play one, maybe two, videos at a time, determining what was played when. After they all loaded, it was on. I spent a good half-hour just sitting there, clicking different videos, and seeing what sort of unexpected beauty I could create.
Of course, I had my favorite performances and ones I wasn’t as keen on. In particular, I kept returning to the first video I clicked on, of Solomon playing the glass marimba. It served as the backbone for the rest of my ever-changing, quietly reassuring drone-song, and provided continuity to my experience.
Some people will obviously have different videos they favor. Some people may hate the Solomon’s marimba playing, near to my heart as it was. But that’s exactly the beauty of In Bb 2.0. Anyone can sit down, click on whichever videos they want, and listen to what they created. It’s crowd-sourced, user-directed ambient music, and it’s beautiful.