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Townshend’s ‘Method’ Finally Ready For Unveiling

Pete Townshend’s decades-old vision of creating musical portraits through technology has come to fruition. The Who guitarist today unveiled his music creation, now dubbed the Lifehouse Method, to a small gathering of journalists in London.

The Method is an Internet-based software program that enables the user — or “sitter” — to generate music from unique, inputted data. The sitter can upload four strands of personal information into the system, consisting of a digital photo, a rhythm, a sound and a voice.

“This is a step in doing something which is a true, authentic, elegant artist process, based on the incredible [software] system,” he said. “I love what this produces and my vision for it now is that I think, yes, we could have a gathering in some future time where we could share our music together.”

Townhend explained that the project was the culmination of an idea which had percolated since his art school days in the 1960s. The concept was first introduced in the early 1970s via music intended for the Townshend-penned “Lifehouse” song cycle and planned concept album, which eventually morphed into the Who’s “Who’s Next” album.

Music composed through the Method’s technology formed the basis of the track “Fragments” on the most recent Who album, “Endless Wire.” Today’s launch, Townshend noted, was an attempt “in essence, [to] close the book on the great lost project of Lifehouse, as a Who legendary non-event.”

The Method was developed by mathematician/composer Lawrence Ball and software developer Dave Snowdon, under the patronage of Townshend.

“What is produced by the program is music that generally Lawrence and I tend to like. Whether you like [it] is absolutely immaterial,” he quipped. “The composer is king, in this respect. What we are trying to do is to approach the truth.”

The service will accept registrations beginning May 1. The user will be entitled to three, free “portrait sittings” until July 31, after which time a subscription offer will roll out. “I’m hoping that further down the line there can be some commercial elaboration,” Townshend said, adding that copyright was an issue currently being looked at.