Great Panel Session at ASCAP Expo

I just returned from a very short but fast paced trip to Los Angeles.  I got to spend some time with my sister, brother and parents, but I was really there to be a part of a panel session at the 2010 ASCAP Expo at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel.

Fran Richard and Cia Toscanini, from the ASCAP Concert Music section, have tried to get me involved with this event for several years – with me talking about future technologies in music and how they would impact both the classical and commercial worlds of music.  But every time we tried to do this, I was either already committed to other events, or would have travel conflicts that would make it impossible for me to attend.  But this year was different. I had the time, and we had a topic.

With the help of my colleagues Peter Otto (UCSD) and Chris Chafe (Stanford), we talked about using global computer networks for composing, performing and teaching music.  Peter’s work has focused on using high-speed networks to do remote post-production for film. Chris talked about his research in using commodity networks to link musicians remotely for rehearsals and performance.  And I talked about our work on the laptop orchestra, and using high-speed networks for both education and performance. Between the three of us, we really covered most of the research activity in using networks for music.

To be perfectly frank, I was worried that our topic would be too narrow, too experimental for the ASCAP Expo. But we had a great crowd for the talk, with great questions and comments. The audience response was really strong and the post-panel discussion kept going in the hallway for another 30 minutes. I even got to see a former student whose working for PreSonus.

The session was so well received, we’re already talking about what we could do for next year. Can you spell “demo”?


Compose Your Own – Opinionator Blog –

My colleague, Jason Freeman, wrote a great article for the NYTimes on the importance of making music.  Not just playing music, but actually making music and making musical decisions about music.

He’s even created a web-based application that allows anyone to recompose and perform a piece of his.  This would fall under the category of performance-indeterminate music.  Read on…

Compose Your Own – Opinionator Blog –

News: Minor Bumps for iPad – Inside Higher Ed

What’s really interesting about this article is the “attitude” of some institutions towards the impact of iPads on their networks.  Some see the influx of iPads as a negative element trying to invade their networks, rather than understanding the need to include iPads in their networks.  One approach tries to fit square pegs into round holes. The other makes new holes.

News: Minor Bumps for iPad – Inside Higher Ed.

The importance of the iPad

I have wanted to put some thoughts down on “paper” on the value and importance of the iPad.  But I also felt that until I actually had one in my hand, I shouldn’t write anything.

Well, the time has come and gone.  I have my iPad, I’ve used it, I’ve been amazed by it, and I’ve been concerned about some of the issues that others have raised.  But the bottom line is that my first thoughts were correct.

The iPad is a transformational object that recognizes an important paradigm shift that has occurred among general consumers of computer technology. iPads are interactive media devices that unite the realms of produced media (movies, music, photos) and interactive media (live music, games, social media) in a form factor that is intuitive, lightweight, and natural.  The paradigm shift here is between laptops and handhelds.  Smartphones are (were) a pathway for this kind of linkage, but these palm size objects prevent the kind of meaningful interaction where the reward for interaction is enough for adoption.  There just isn’t enough physical space for your fingers to do much within a single action (i.e., zoom in/out).

The scale of the iPad is large enough for human fingers, big enough for failing eyes, and responsive enough such that a natural connection between physical actions (tapping, drawing) and virtual actions (flipping pages, zooming, playing musical notes) is convincing.  You have already seen an explosion in apps that involve music making of some sort or another.  ThumDrum, Magic Piano, Beatwave are all apps that enable amateur musicians the ability to quickly develop a real sense of virtuosity and musicianship.  These are very exciting developments for those of us concerned with virtuosity and musicianship in a digital age of immediate gratification.

For those who think the iPad is nothing more than an oversized iPhone/iTouch, you are correct.  But that should not be seen as a pejorative.  The increased scale actually improves the interaction and the value to the user. I’m looking forward to working with our students on developing the next generation of apps for this empowering device.