iPhone Becoming Experimental Music Instrument of Choice


It could be a while before Ge Wang and the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) starts to feel the heat, but the The London Geek Community iPhone OSCestra served notice last week at the City’s Open Hack London that experimental iPhone music performance is alive and well.

Wang, of course, founded Smule, developer of the internationally popular Ocarina app, as well as the recently released Leaf Trombone (App Store link), and conducts SLOrk, the renowned ensemble of student computer scientists and musicians using 20 MacBooks to compose and perform new music.

The London-based iPhone OSCestra is a crew of eight musicians, conducted by a chap using a Wii controller, who opened their lone performance so far with an impressive (and authentically geeky) performance of the “Doctor Who” theme.

Jim Purbrick apparently conjured the idea for the venture just a few hours before the Open Hack event, a one-day symposium sponsored by Yahoo! on May 8 that brought together tech-savvy hackers for a day of coding and communicating.

Purbrick and his music mates downloaded the free app mrmr (App Store link), an app that supports customizable audio controllers and sends data wirelessly to other devices using OSC (Open Sound Control). A controller could be a piano-style keyboard, a bank of faders, or an array of knobs and buttons — essentially interactive widgets that allow users to control sound and music.

The free desktop application OSCulator caught all the data, and sent it to Ableton Live, a powerful performance and production platform.

In this instance, the orchestra performed using a bank of synthesizers running within Live. If you’re interested in going beyond Garage Band and making music on your Mac, it’s worth checking out the Live demo.


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