The sponge is a digital musical instrument that looks a bit like cushion. The sensors in it detect when it is twisted, bent or tapped, and allow the performers to intuitively play with a fancy synthesizer. The instrument was designed and built by Martin Marier.
In this first quintet, each performer uses the exact same instrument based on FM synthesis, but the five parts are different. The instrument produces very raw electronic sounds, but because it responds to extremely delicate gestures, the sounds are deeply connected to the physicality of the performers.
The main musical discourse is built on drones that vary in thickness and textures, but harmonies and melodies also play an important part. The polyphony is strictly limited to five voices: one for each performer, meaning that nothing is prerecorded or looped in anyway.
The instrument was designed to play electronic sounds while allowing a type of expressivity that is traditionally associated with acoustic instruments. The sponge quintet inherits from the (very formal) classical chamber music ensemble while proposing a novel approach to composition, performance and interaction with the audience.