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Where there’s a will (and an iPhone) there’s a way

Back last December the New York Times highlighted the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra. The first link goes to the NYT video of the ensemble, but here’s a nicely quiet work from the actual concert:


But that’s not quite the earliest reference to this new ‘instrument’ and kind of ensemble. Michigan actually brought their own Mobile Phone Ensemble to last November’s SEAMUS proceedings,  and there’s a video of (admittedly much less musical) a group of London tech geeks taking on the theme from Dr. Who much earlier in the year, at the Yahoo Open Hack Day.

Not that you need the halls of academia to get this creative; here’s the Hong Kong band RedNoon taking right to the subway:


Just a few weeks after the NYT feature with Stanford, CNN got into the act, also in Hong Kong, interviewing my composer-pal Samson Young about his own iPhone Orchestra. Samson, a Princeton grad student, put together his own performance at the January Hong Kong/Shenzhen Biennale. This one’s my personal favorite:


It may seem very queer, but it’s here — get used to it!


Comment from Paul H. Muller
Time: March 8, 2010, 1:29 pm

When people can create music they will become interested in it. Time was, you would take lessons as a kid, play in the HS band or orchestra and maybe sing in your college choir. That system, unfortunately, is in decline.

So making music with an iPhone could be a big opportunity for composers if it restores a sense of participation in things musical to the general public.

Comment from Mary Jane Leach
Time: March 8, 2010, 1:44 pm

Michael Eck and I used ours for some live theatre music in early January. There are some really good apps. Unfortunately, mine got the black screen part way through one night, and when I got it up running again, none of the apps would load in (and no wifi in the theatre so I could reinstall).

Comment from Stanley Moon
Time: March 8, 2010, 4:07 pm

Golan Levin was making cell phone ensemble pieces 10 years ago.

Comment from paul bailey
Time: March 8, 2010, 9:31 pm

controllerism is a very interesting path ahead for “electronic music”.the barrier of entry might be low to begin with, but from my experience offers a whole different types of performance practice that still needs practice (eye to hand coordination and especially some really good musicianship skills)