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Anne Beetem Acker

Ensemble of performers using programmable mobile (cellular) phones. MoPhoO, the Mobile Phone Orchestra of CCRMA at Stanford University, formed in 2007 with 16 phones and players under the supervision of Ge Wang, Georg Essl, and Henri Penttinen, claims to be the first repertoire- and ensemble-based mobile phone performance group. Notably it uses only the phone’s onboard speakers. Since MoPhoO’s founding, other cell phone ensembles have been founded at the University of Michigan, Berlin (both founded by Georg Essl), and in Helsinki (directors Henri Penttinen and Antti Jylhä). The Michigan ensemble uses custom-made wearable speaker systems. Repertoire consists of scored compositions, sonic sculpture, and structured improvisation. For each piece, the phones run customised programmes that direct how they respond sonically to inputs that can come from the keypad or touchpad, the accelerometer positions, the built-in camera, or the microphone. For example, the keypad numbers can be mapped to different pitches in different modes, or to any sort of sound or sequence of sounds. While cell phones have considerable computing capability, they have limited acoustic bandwidth, but partial selection can suggest bass frequencies that are below the cell phone’s actual capability....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Interactive computer network used as an extended musical instrument, played by a San Franciso Bay–area experimental computer network band also called The Hub. The band, founded in 1985 by Tim Perkis and John Bischoff, evolved from the League of Automatic Music Composers (1978–83). The concept of The Hub is to create live music resulting from the unpredictable behaviour of the interconnected computer system. The composer/performers consider their performances a type of ‘enhanced improvisation’....

Article

Laptop  

Edmond T. Johnson

A compact personal computer specifically designed for portability, which may serve various functions related to musical performance and composition. Though portable computers were commercially available in the 1970s, it was only in the early 1980s that the laptop took on its now nearly ubiquitous hinged form. While early laptops were sometimes used by musicians for ancillary tasks such as sequencing and patch editing, their limited data storage, expandability, and processing power—all of which compared unfavorably with contemporary desktop computers—generally prevented them from functioning as the generative source for a musical performance. By the late 1990s, however, significant advances in technology, coupled with dramatic reductions in price, allowed the laptop rapidly to achieve popularity as an independent locus of music-making for composers and performers of both popular and electronic art music. As desktop computers are capable of running the same range of software as laptops, the preference for the latter among many electronic musicians reflects the advantages offered by the device’s compact form and consequent portability, and not any difference in intrinsic functionality....