Laptop Orchestra

the big picture

PHOTO: lorne campbell/guzelian

In November, 50 music students from the University of York, in England, played their first concert as the world’s largest digital orchestra. Ambrose Field, the director, calls his Worldscape Laptop Orchestra ”a vast, humanly controlled synthesizer.” The ensemble combines drummers, DJs, and classical violinists to modernize the traditional orchestra. The musicians produce a range of sounds by typing commands and by sweeping their hands in front of a camera inside the laptop, which translates the movement into sound. As the students perform, algorithms follow the music and drop in new sounds.

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