Orchestra merges classical music, laptops

By By Andreas Rivera

By Andreas Rivera

Classical music can come from any instrument, even a computer, according to a band of laptop musicians here at the U. A team of alumni and students are working together to create a performance like none the U has ever seen. The orchestra consists of nine members8212;eight on laptops and one on percussion8212;whose sole purpose is to deliver the Terry Reilly piece “In C” through computerized sounds and synthesizers. The team will perform at the Crosstalk event Nov. 24.

Matt Dixon, an U graduate in music, started the group in June. He has been working out a way to perform an entire piece using laptops. David Cottle, a professor in music technology, is backing the project by providing facilities, equipment and his expertise.

The performance is approximately an hour long, but it could go shorter or longer since the entire performance is improvised. The eight members on computers are given a set of notes they can tweak any way they want. They can change the sounds, how fast they want to go, the treble and bass and much more. Each time they play the piece, it sounds different.

“People have spent years and years practicing their instrument before they can even be creative,” Dixon said. “This way, you can learn in hours what takes in years and still be creative with it.”

But not all the members on the team are studying music, Dixon said. Bryan Patterson, a U graduate in English, is on the team and created the visuals that will go along with the performance.

“We needed to add visuals, otherwise it’ll sound like we might as well be playing video games,” Patterson said. The visual component is a video of a cherry blossom tree, ever-changing and slowly shifting between different seasons. Patterson said he was inspired by minimalist paintings, which are simple and go along with the music.

“In C” was written in 1964. Cottle describes it as a piece written when classical music was too intellectual and complex. He said this piece changed people’s perspective on how classical music should be done. It involves repetitive sounds and slow, simple change8212;something that is reflected in this particular performance.

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