“To me computer music isn’t really about computers, it’s about people. It’s about how we use technology to change the way we think, do, and make music; maybe even add to how we can connect to each other through music”. – Ge Wang
Ge Wang is Chinese American musician and programmer responsible for the creation of the ChucK programming language, as well as the founding of the Stanford Laptop and Mobile Phone Orchestras. He is also the co-founder of the mobile music app Smule, and designer for the iPhones Ocarina and Magic Piano. Wang received his B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University, and then went on to get his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Princeton University. He is now an Associate professor at Stanford University in the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. He operates at the intersection of computer science design, and music.
I found the idea of the laptop orchestra to be a weird, and intriguing concept. The process of bringing to life such a unique experience for everyone involved was also quite fascinating. Using IKEA salad bowls, car speakers, amplifier kits, they created these hemispherical domes, which project the sound of the instrument, from the location of the performer to give the sense of autonomy in performance, and mimic the way sound is produced in a typical orchestra, rather than have the sounds blast through the PA system. The process of setting up the laptop orchestra involved the creation of an instrument called ‘Twilight’: an instrument which uses the motion of the performers hand to generate sounds. I really admire many of his projects particularly the laptop orchestra because it begins to blur the lines between various disciplines while expanding the minds of their audience to the interdisciplinary possibilities.