It has been a very exciting week for the A Toronto Symphony project. We launched our Media Scores app and have received dozens of wonderful contributions and comments from many of you. We had a truly wonderful session last week with school kids from around Toronto who shared their exciting Hyperscore compositions created for the project, many of them performed by musicians from the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Today we are delighted to launch a brand new web app that offers a completely different way for you to contribute to the creative process of A Toronto Symphony. CONSTELLATION has been designed especially for A Toronto Symphony by Akito Van Troyer and my team at the MIT Media Lab. Like Media Scores, Constellation lets you take material I have composed for the piece and then Continue reading →
Over the summer, a couple dozen Toronto music teachers convened workshops to develop an exciting new music curriculum incorporating Hyperscore, a music composition software that uses a graphical annotation interface enabling anyone to express themselves creatively through music. Here’s Tod Machover explaining how the curriculum is now being taught to several hundred Toronto school kids.
From Tod Machover:
Now that I’ve collected a range of sounds from you all, we’re ready to begin using Hyperscore to create music!
Hyperscore uses lines and color as opposed to typical musical notation to express musical ideas so that people of all ranges of skills and musical training can compose. Over the past months, we have had the opportunity to work with teachers from the Toronto School District to create curriculum that will encourage students to compose with Hyperscore. This spans across middle and high school levels, and we’re hoping to connect younger and older students to collaborate on the same pieces. Younger students can create melodies that older students can combine into compositions and send back to the middle school for reflection and thoughts on improvement. Eventually, these projects will become part of the Toronto Symphony project.
Don’t worry—if you aren’t a current student, I still want you to be involved. This is the link to Hyperscore: http://hyperscore.com. I will be sending out ideas for sections of the final piece or small Hyperscore fragments for you to work on alone and with the other participants of the project so we can reflect together on the best melodies and short compositions for the final piece. Let’s get started!
If you’d like to try your hand at composing with Hyperscore, the company is making the software available to “A Toronto Symphony” participants at a discount. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the discount code.
Join Tod Machover on Saturday, September 29th, in the South lobby of Roy Thomson Hall where he’ll be experimenting in creating the sounds of Toronto with musicians from the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. Tod will share his ideas about the beyond-crowd sourced composition and give you a chance to hear the music as it is being created and well before its premiere at the New Creations Festival in March 2013.
This is truly a unique opportunity to create something new that represents what the city of Toronto means to each of us. Details here.
So I hope you’ve had a chance to take a look at the first bit of music I made with the Toronto Symphony musicians. Now it’s your turn, to see what your reaction is to the Launch Music and maybe to see if you want to add something to it. You can look at the chords, play them on the piano, look at the video, you can hear the chords, you can hear the full piece. It’s a combination of my chords, what the musicians wrote in response to my chords, and then some improvisation we did back and forth. You can look at the score, and it would be great to hear any comments.
This music might be what A Toronto Symphony actually feels like. It might start with these chords and with this shape. So I’d love to hear if you think this feels like the beginning of a symphony, or if we might change it in some way. And I would definitely love it if you would send chords that you like that maybe my chords suggest to you, you might want to add chords to my chords, you might even want to take the audio recording of the chords or the music we made and jam on top of them. You can sing on top of it, you can play instruments on top of it, or you can use it to write out music that might go along with it.
So that’s my challenge to you now. Here’s this Launch Music. Tell me what you think of it, change it, add something to it, and let’s start working together to shape the opening of this piece based on this music. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
UPDATE: Here at last is the edited video from the ideacity 2012 presentation, with a performance of the Launch Music exercise by members of the Toronto Symphony:
To officially launch our A Toronto Symphony collaboration, I created a series of chords last month to serve as a kind of “genetic” code for the project, and also to serve as material that we could share back-and-forth to modify and to make new things. Chord progressions are great because they are both simple – a kind of musical backbone or skeleton – yet complex enough to truly tell a story. Just think of the chords in a classic piece by The Beatles like “Michelle”, or the way Bach squeezes a universe of expression out of his seemingly simple 4-part Chorales.
Click on image to enlarge
I have always enjoyed composing harmonic progressions, and the one I have started for A Toronto Symphony is typical of the way I work (see score at right). There is a strong melody line that helps to shape how each chord moves to the next, and how the whole line together creates a story. In my music, the bass (lowest) line is equally important…and of course I care about the rest of the notes too. In addition, this chord progression starts and ends simply, but moves in waves, zigzagging from simple/familiar to complex/strange chords, from notes bunched near the center of the keyboard to those spreading from low to high, and from chords which feel restful and resolved to those that seem dense and tense. Sometimes the movement from one chord to the next feels fluid and natural, sometimes surprising. I have tweaked this all fairly carefully, so that the whole progression feels pleasing and complete but also has much variety and potential for further development.
You can hear how the first section of the chord progression sounds by listening at 9:10 in the video below, from my ideacity 2012 talk: