iPhones are musical instruments in new course and ensemble (w/ Video)

Dec 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- iPhones are being used as musical instruments in a new course at the University of Michigan.

The students -- who design, build and play instruments on their smartphones -- will perform at a public concert on Dec. 9. The concert is free and open to the public.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video of practice performance

Building a Ensemble, believed to be the first such course in the world, is taught by Georg Essl, a computer scientist and musician who has been driving the development of mobile phones as musical instruments. Several years ago, Essl and his colleagues were the first known to use the as a wind sensor—a tactic that enables popular iPhone apps such as the Ocarina. Ocarina essentially turns the phone into an ancient type of flute. Essl is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

"The mobile phone is a very nice platform for exploring new forms of musical performance," Essl said. "We're not tethered to the physics of traditional instruments. We can do interesting, weird, unusual things.

"This kind of technology is in its infancy, but it's a hot and growing area to use iPhones for artistic expression."

To build an instrument on an , you program the device to play back as sound information it receives from one if its multitude of sensors. The touch-screen, microphone, GPS, compass, wireless sensor and accelerometer can all be transformed so that when you run your finger across the display, blow air into the mic, tilt or shake the phone, for example, different sounds emanate.

The class demands creativity and technological savvy.

"In order to come up with a creative piece you have to engage with the technology, but in order to make technology interesting, you also have to engage with the musicality. These are really hard to separate. We're trying to teach both," Essl said.

More information: The Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble concert is Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. in Britton Recital Hall in the Moore Building in the School of , Theatre & Dance. The Moore Building is at 1100 Baits Dr. on U-M's North Campus in Ann Arbor.

Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble

Provided by University of Michigan (news : web)

Explore further: LG Chem's super-efficient OLED lighting has life of 40,000 hours

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A musical hit for the iPhone

Mar 26, 2009

The iPhone is many things - business device, gaming console, instant-messenger buddy. Ge Wang turned it into a flute.

Creating Music With Your Cell Phone

Nov 07, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you own a cell phone, then new software created by Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology director Gil Weinberg and his students will allow you to be the next composer and performer of ...

Recommended for you

Google to test cars without a driver

Sep 16, 2014

Google plans to begin testing its new prototype of a self-driving car - which, unlike earlier models, doesn't require a back-up driver - at NASA's Ames Research Center, just a few miles from the tech company's ...

Self-driving cars now need a permit in California

Sep 16, 2014

Computer-driven cars have been testing their skills on California roads for more than four years—but until now, the Department of Motor Vehicles wasn't sure just how many were rolling around.

Index ranks Japan Asia's most efficient innovator (Update)

Sep 12, 2014

A new index ranks Japan as the most efficient among Asian countries in turning the building blocks of creativity into tangible innovations that benefit their economies and people while Myanmar, Pakistan and Cambodia are least ...

Making travel quick, safe for cars, bikes, walkers

Sep 10, 2014

Cellphones that warn drivers when people are crossing in front of them. Bicycles and cars that communicate with traffic lights. Sensors in cars that quickly alert other drivers to black ice, potholes or other ...

Tech giants bet on 'smart home' revolution

Sep 10, 2014

It's long been the stuff of science fiction, but tech giants hope the "smart home", where gadgets talk to each other and the fridge orders the milk, will soon become reality.

User comments : 0