Hyperscore has starring role at the Toronto Symphony

Saturday evening saw the successful debut of Tod Machover’s “A Toronto Symphony”, described aptly by conductor Peter Oundjian as “the most collaborative piece of music that has ever been written.” Nearly a year in the making, the new work was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony for its New Creations Festival. Scored for a full symphony orchestra, the half-hour-long piece involved thousands of citizens of Toronto who contributed acoustic sample and original compositions. Hundreds of school children composed original music using Hyperscore.

Check out this BBC News video about the project here: Tod Machover: composer’s social media symphony for Toronto.

Image-TorontoGabe

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A Toronto Symphony workshop (video)

The Toronto Symphony posted this terrific video highlighting a workshop with composer Tod Machover and Toronto school kids who composed music inspired by the sounds of their city. The kids used Hyperscore, guided by a creative group of music teachers. We are looking forward to seeing the curriculum they developed!

Read more about the A Toronto Symphony project here.

Composer Stacy Garrop on teaching with Hyperscore

Composer Stacy Garrop was invited by the Ying Quartet’s David Ying to lead a series of Hyperscore composing workshops for the 2011 Skaneateles Festival. The resulting works were performed by string quartets at the Festival. In an interview with us, Garrop shared some of her lessons learned from mentoring non-musicians to compose music using our software. You can listen to her in the video.

Some key points:

  • Teachers need to be committed so that the kids won’t  just put it down after one day. Teachers who are passionate about the project will communicate that passion to their students.
  • With high school students, you may run into the problem that many students know notation and may try to replicated note for note the music they already know.
  • The visual representations of music in Hyperscore gets kids excited and is helpful.
  • You need to break things down into building blocks. Design lessons around what’s important in music and what’s meaningful in music.
  • The colors helped isolate different elements of music and provide a way to talk about their different functions in the music.
  • People who are already in a creative field really get it.
  • I created lots of exercises to help people learn about the tools in Hyperscore. For example, we did an exercise about range.
  • Everyone needs a goal. Before my first workshop, I gave people small assignment that they can have ready for me to  look at and a goal for the end of each workshop.
  • Make sure you know what the equipment needs are. A good sound system is important!
  • Also really important – You need enough computers so that the kids can be working on their pieces while I’m going around the room. If I have enough time, they can get enough work done during a class to get feedback at the end of class.

Garrop remarked that she found it “very enlightening” to talk with much younger students. Overall, it was a “really fun” experience for her.

If you are interested in inviting Stacy Garrop to lead workshops in your school or organization, she may be reached via her website at http://www.garrop.com/

“Amazing accomplishment”

As we reported previously, Hyperscore is being used by hundreds of school children in Toronto this fall to compose music for Tod Machover’s “A Toronto Symphony” project. How has it worked in practice? We found out last Friday when Tod met with around 300 kids gathered with their teachers on the campus of Toronto’s College Français. There to witness the occasion was Musical Toronto‘s John Terauds. He writes:

Hyperscore offers synthesized audio output of its own, but orchestrated by a real composer and played by the excellent young musicians on stage, these miniature compositions from pint-sized composers sounded remarkably sophisticated.

Here is one example, from Broadlands P.S. student Nebyou. What you see on the projection is the Hyperscore screen. The crazy doodle is the composition. The music is being played by members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra:

Terauds says, “I have to admit that the ease with which the user becomes a creator worries me, because it feels too easy. Part of me considers this to be a form of pseudo creation, that only the careful application of pencil (and eraser) to notation paper is real creation.”

But the results have convinced him otherwise:

These children, many of whom I’m sure haven’t had any lessons music theory, were truly and fully engaged with the act of creating music.

Isn’t that what we all dream of?

The fact that their work will eventually find itself performed on the stage of Roy Thomson Hall seems almost superfluous after this amazing accomplishment.

Read John Teraud’s full post here: Toronto school children become engaged composers in Toronto Symphony experiment

Hyperscore has role in new film!

It’s Hyperscore meets Hollywood in a new documentary film, Music is My Voiceabout Dan Ellsey, a young man with cerebral palsy whose life was transformed when he learned to compose music using the software. Dan was featured in this TED Talk by Tod Machover, in which he performs a song he composed before a live audience. The new film, directed by Jesse Roesler, is a semi-finalist in the Focus/Forward contest. Here’s the trailer and a chance to vote!

A to A: The World in Harmony (Video)

Enjoy this video of a concert of Hyperscore original music performed at the Armenian Opera Theater in February of this year. The music was composed by children in Armenia and America and performed by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and DOGMA, one of the country’s most popular rock bands. The event was co-sponsored by the LUYS Education Foundation and the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan to celebrate the embassy’s 20th anniversary. LUYS Foundation director Jacqueline Karaaslanian explained the motivation for the project:

Hyperscore wakes up the genius within children and instills in them a desire to better understand a whole universe of worlds they had not previously imagined or considered. When children know that their elders and professionals will play their music, they are empowered. This process is beyond encouraging words; it validates children as thinkers and creators.

Read more about the project here: From the U.S. to Armenia, Kids Build a Musical Bridge

Hyperscore in Action: Using motifs to build music

One of the core ideas in Hyperscore are “motifs” – small melodies and rhythm patterns – which form the basic building blocks from which to construct musical compositions. In this video, Tod Machover coaches a groups of children in Armenia and the U.S. as they work together to create a new piece to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the United States Embassy in Armenia. Humming tunes and drawing in Hyperscore, the kids created a variety of motifs. Here we see them start to construct a composition which eventually will be performed by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra at the gala celebration. (For more information, read From the U.S. to Armenia, Kids Build a Musical Bridge.)

Toy Symphony Workshop in Dublin (2002)

From the Toy Symphony project homepage

“I can play [the Hyperviolin] and it will sound like a flute or a human voice, yet using the technique of the violin that I have learnt. The possibilities are limitless…And the kids respond to it because it is current. Their imaginations are stimulated, they’re having fun, and they know they are part of something special. That excites me a lot.”  – Joshua Bell, violin virtuoso and “hyperviolinist”

On April 9, 2002, Toy Symphony received its World Premiere in Dublin with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Gerhard Markson with guest Hyperviolin soloist Joshua Bell. Here is video footage from a workshop to which the public were invited to try out various digital toys and Hyperscore software.

Toy Symphony project in Berlin, 2002

On February 24, 2002, Toy Symphony received a highly successful European preview with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester in Berlin under Conductor Kent Nagano with guest Hyperviolin soloist Cora Venus Lunny. Scores of children throughout Berlin participated in school events and Toy Symphony workshops – excelling as performers and composers, and the sold out Open House and Concert created great buzz in Berlin through extensive print, radio, and television coverage both before and afterwards. An exciting pre-launch for the project. (From the Toy Symphony homepage.)

Check out the videos below of the workshop where kids composed their pieces using Hyperscore, and of the concert.

Introducing Hyperscore

“The single coolest thing to happen to music ever.” – Thomas O’Hara, 12, of West Genesee Middle School

Music software that lets anyone compose music. The first music software program designed to teach students and adults how to compose music simply by drawing lines on the screen.