Q&A with Tod Machover – “What inspires you to make music accessible and interactive?”

Here is question 3 from New Vilna Review Editor Daniel Levenson’s recent interview with composer Tod Machover:

NVR: It seems as though a large part of the work you do involves an educational element – what is it that inspires you to not only want to create this music, theater and art, but to put so much energy into making it accessible and interactive as well?

Toy Symphony beat bugs, music shapers

TM: Part of this commitment to pedagogy – and to involving the general public directly in artistic experiences in new ways – was influenced by my parents. Both of them were and are exceptional pedagogues, my Mom literally, as one of the most creative and effective piano teachers I know, and my Dad, through his career of developing and evangelizing computer graphics technologies that would allow people to harness the power of computing through intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces (decades before the appearance of the Mac!). On top of this, I see a general disconnect between sophisticated artistic culture and current educational priorities (especially in this country), and also – paradoxically – a tendency for Facebook and Twitter-type technologies to increase the celebrity of famous artists while augmenting the “fandom” of everyone else, distancing audiences from the artists they admire. I believe that culture in general is healthiest when people participate actively and creatively, instead of just watching from the sidelines. And paradoxically, technology is one of the best tools for bridging gaps between each of our abilities and whatever knowledge we need to get or experience we want to have…when designed correctly, of course. So it has become part of my life work to not only create and share my own personal artistic visions, but to develop environments where anyone can experience sophisticated creative experiences, from the Brain Opera and Toy Symphony which allow amateurs to perform and explore, to Hyperscore which lets anyone compose original music, to our work in Music, Mind and Health, which provides tools and techniques for diagnosis of disease, for treatment of a wide range of physical and psychological ailments, and for general wellbeing and personal expression.

From the New Vilna Review: “Music, Technology and Immortality: an Interview with Composer and MIT Professor, Tod Machover”

Copyright 2011 The New Vilna Review. Republished here with the express permission of the publisher of the New Vilna Review.

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