The Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble, led by Assistant Professor Georg Essl, will present its premiere public concert on Wednesday, December 9, at 8:00 pm in Britton Recital Hall at the Moore School of Music on North Campus. Free and open to the public, this unique concert will showcase all new works composed by the students in the ensemble, and performed on virtual instruments that they have programmed on their iPhones.
The ensemble was formed in the context of Prof. Essl's new multi-disciplinary course, "Building a Mobile Phone Ensemble," which has been taught during the Fall 2009 semester. This class, believed to be the first formal course of its type in the world, merges engineering practices, mobile phone programming, and sound synthesis with new music performance, composition, and interactive media arts.
Students in the class program their iPhones to accept input from the devices' multitude of input sensors, and to create sound based on that input. The touch-screen, microphone, GPS, compass, wireless sensor, and accelerometer can all be transformed so that when a performer runs their finger across the display, blows air into the mic, tilts or shakes the phone, for example, different sounds emanate. Students then compose for these new instruments and ultimatley perform their works. Because the course brings together so many aspects of engineering, composition, and performance, the class demands a high degree of both creativity and technological savvy.
The emsemble members are Owen Campbell, Justin Crowell, Rishi Daftuar, Sivan Jacobovitz, Devin Kerr, Eric Lapointe, Colin Neville, Matthew Steele, Raphael Szymanski, Nathan Zukoff, and Colin Zyskowski.
Prof. Essl's work is in the multidisciplinary field of performing arts technology, which integrates concepts and techniques from computer science and other disciplines with the creation, analysis, and performance of music. He has a joint appointment in the Computer Science and Engineering Division in the EECS Department and the Department of Performing Arts Technology in the School of Music.
U-M News Service Press Release (includes video): "iPhones are musical instruments in new course and ensemble"