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An unusual orchestra from Virginia Tech makes music with computers
Date published: 10/10/2011
Musical knowledge is not a prerequisite for playing in the orchestra. The musicians' majors range from political science to biology.
Unlike other computer music projects (yes, there are other laptop orchestras), the Virginia Tech version adds natural, sometimes unpredictable human movement to the equation. These musicians are not just pushing buttons or tapping at keyboards, they are performing--creating sound by moving their hands as any musician would.
It is not unlike the Theremin, an electric instrument invented by Russian professor Leon Theremin. That instrument is played by waving your hands in front of two antenna. You might recognize the Theremin sound from old horror movies or the "Star Trek" theme song.
Like a regular orchestra, the players' movements are linked rhythmically to become a choreographed dance. It's hard to tell whether the movement is in service of the music, or vice versa.
"It's the concept of combining the mind and body with music," said senior Adam Wirdzek.
The orchestra has toured the U.S. and Europe, and Bukvic has nurtured the technology to a point where anyone can use it.
With such stability, other composers can write for the orchestra. He hopes to perform some new pieces this spring. "This is a humble beginning for us," he said. "We've reached some milestones very successfully."
Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036