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.

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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/

Music from Skaneateles

We recently received audio recordings of several compositions by participants in the Hyperscore II project for the famed Skaneateles Music Festival. In April and May of 2011, composer Stacy Garrop visited schools in upstate New York, teaching students what it takes to compose music. Stacy helped kids of all ages to discover the music within; participants ranged in age from 10 to adult and included students from A.J. Smith Elementary in Union Springs, West Genesee Middle School and Skaneateles High School, as well as employees of ChaseDesign. The project culminated with the Hyperscore II Community Celebration at the 2011 festival.

We were very impressed by how each piece expresses a distinctive personality and diversity of structure. Click on the gallery images below to see what these pieces look like in Hyperscore. Do take a listen and share your thoughts!

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.)

America to Armenia – Building a Musical Bridge

The opulent Armenian Opera Theater in the heart of Armenia’s capital Yerevan reverberated with some truly fresh sounds on the evening of February 25, 2012, as two of Armenia’s elite musical ensembles dug into new pieces composed entirely by children from Armenia and the United States. The concert, “A-to-A: A World in Harmony,” featured 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.

Despite the composers’ youth – they ranged in age from 8 to 14 – their work was rich and rewarding to hear, thanks to the boost their musical imaginations received from Hyperscore, a music-creation software developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab by a team led by renowned composer Tod Machover. Hyperscore puts unprecedented composing power into the hands of people who long to express themselves musically, regardless of their formal training. More than that, Hyperscore turns out to be an exceptional tool for collaborative creativity. One of the pieces receiving its world premiere at the Yerevan event was jointly composed by children in Boston and Armenia. Continue reading