The Global TV documentary on A Toronto Symphony aired last week. It shows many pivotal behind-the-scenes moments in the creation of the piece. We hear Tod is working on a video compilation that will include more music. In the meantime, you can watch this documentary by clicking here. (Correction: We have replaced the incorrect link in our original post with the correct link).
Category Archives: Videos
Tod Machover’s keynote lecture from the annual Chamber Music America Conference (January 18, 2013) has just been posted online. Among other things, he discusses chamber music as an ideal context to imagine and create a subtle, intimate, human-scaled future for technology, in the arts and beyond.
As the Opera of the Future team heads into the final stretch of its ambitious Toronto Symphony project, it has released a brand-new web application called Media Scores. The system enables anyone to mold sections of composer Tod Machover’s music like pieces of sonic clay, save their work, and share them with other users, including Machover. It’s all part of an experiment to stretch the boundaries of collaboration between artist and the public.
The first Media Scores activity was just released yesterday. According to the A Toronto Symphony website, it “will allow you to help complete the Finale section (“Toronto Dances”) of the piece, contribute to the accompaniment “texture” of the work’s virtuosic “City Soaring” movement, and experiment with other sections of the composition to build your own unique blend and personalized musical narrative.”
In this CBC News feature, Tod explains his motivation for turning what could have been a straightforward orchestra commission into a high-wire act involving entirely novel technology and attempts to engage a diverse swath of Toronto’s citizens in helping him create the piece:
A music-maker long interested in technology and audience participation, Machover has more recently been fascinated at how his teen daughter’s generation is taking popular songs and morphing them — for instance through cover versions posted online.
That said, “it’s pretty unlikely that [a Lady Gaga YouTube cover his daughter makes with her friends] will change Lady Gaga’s next song,” he admitted.
The interactive Toronto Symphony project is his attempt to turn that involvement into true, two-way communication…
What he’s grappling with now is not just creating an abstract piece of music, but developing something that affects people emotionally, “involves being aware, literally and metaphorically, of what your city sounds like” and “doing justice to the richness of what’s coming in.”
Check out this video in which Tod explains how Media Scores works. Then go and try it out!
Dan Ellsey, a young man with cerebral palsy whose life was transformed when he learned to compose music using Hyperscore, is the subject of a new documentary film, Music is My Voice. Hyperscore was developed by the Opera of the Future group at the M.I.T. Media Lab and featured in this TED Talk by Tod Machover, with a live performance by Dan. The new film, directed by Jesse Roesler, is a semi-finalist in the Focus/Forward contest. Congratulations! Here’s the trailer and a chance to vote!
Tod returns by popular demand to speak with opera lovers at the Dallas Opera on September 18. He’s joined by Sara Heaton, who performed in “Death and the Powers” in the role of Miranda. Here they are in “Composing Conversations”:
In mid-June, Tod officially launched his project with the Toronto Symphony at the ideacity 2012 conference. On the project blog, Tod explains the ideas behind his “launch music”:
To officially launch our A Toronto Symphony collaboration, I created a series of chords last month to serve as a kind of “genetic” code for the project, and also to serve as material that we could share back-and-forth to modify and to make new things. Chord progressions are great because they are both simple – a kind of musical backbone or skeleton – yet complex enough to truly tell a story. Just think of the chords in a classic piece by The Beatles like “Michelle”, or the way Bach squeezes a universe of expression out of his seemingly simple 4-part Chorales. Continue reading
“I can play [the Hyperviolin] and it will sound like a flute or a human voice, yet using the technique of the violin that I have learnt. The possibilities are limitless…And the kids respond to it because it is current. Their imaginations are stimulated, they’re having fun, and they know they are part of something special. That excites me a lot.”
- Joshua Bell, violin virtuoso and “hyperviolinist”
From the Toy Symphony project homepage
On April 9, 2002, Toy Symphony received its World Premiere in Dublin with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Gerhard Markson with guest Hyperviolin soloist Joshua Bell. In the weeks leading up to the concert, Tod Machover’s Media Lab team conducted workshops for the public. In this video, children and adults try out various digital toys and Hyperscore software. Watch:
One of the core ideas in Hyperscore, the composing software developed by Tod Machover’s team at the M.I.T. Media Lab, is that music is built from “motifs” – small melodies and rhythm patterns – which are assembled into larger musical structures. In this video, Tod coaches a groups of children in Armenia and the U.S. as they work together to create a new piece of music. The kids created a variety of motifs, humming them or wielding the mouse to draw them in Hyperscore. Here we see them start to construct a composition which eventually will be performed by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra at a gala celebration. (For more information, read From the U.S. to Armenia, Kids Build a Musical Bridge.)
We wanted to share this lovely video footage from our archives. On June 2, 2002, Tod Machover’s Toy Symphony was performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony under the baton of Gerhard Markson. Renowned violinist Joshua Bell played a special “hyperviolin”. He shared the spotlight with kids playing Beat Bugs and Music Shapers, as well as a children’s chorus.
Visit the Toy Symphony project homepage for more information.
This talk occurred earlier this year and just showed up on YouTube. It provides an excellent overview of the work by Tod Machover’s Hyperinstruments and Opera of the Future groups at the MIT Media Lab. Speaking from the Media Lab to the Munich audience via a video conferencing system, Tod and his students demonstrate the technologies and their applications to musical performances, composition, health and creative collaborations.