Concordia Live and
Interactive Electroacoustic
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Hexagram-Concordia Centre for Research
Creation in Media Arts and Technologies

in collaboration with

Concordia University - Department of Music

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David Rothenberg - Can Multi-Computer Music Bring Us Together and Not Apart?

In recent years ensembles consisting of musicians performing on many laptop computers all playing simultaneously have cropped up at universities all over the world. This is an interesting situation because we all know that one single computer can easily make enough music to simulate an entire symphony or stadium rock band. What happens when you play ten computers simultaneously? What kind of music should they make together, something that no individual machine could make on its own?

I have been running such an ensemble at the New Jersey Institute of Technology for several years, composed mainly of students who are not music majors, but instead are specializing in any number of fields from computer science to engineering to architecture to business. Notable about the group is they are mostly working class kids, often the first generation in their families to go to college, and they come from all over the world, bringing different musical and cultural sensibilities to bear on the project, since New Jersey is the most ethnically diverse state in the USA and we are a public university.

Over time I’ve come to believe that the most radical thing about the laptop orchestra is that is uses the computer to enable students in a single space, in class or on stage, to interact with each other instead of burying their concentration alone with their machine. Walk across a college campus today and too often you will see hundreds of heads buried in their electronic devices, paying attention to no one else. Here we use the same self-engrossing machine to make music together, and we hope that in the process a new kind of music will be made that no person alone with a single machine can emulate. This is the music of the people, and we can only play it together, with eyes and ears open to all.



CLIEC 2011 - Saturday, March 26th 2011
Concordia University - Montreal, Canada