How Technology Opens New Possibilities For Musical Experiences


    New contexts, experiments and ideas have brought about new ways to express ourselves sonically.

    Moogfest, which took place in Durham, N.C. last weekend, represented a unique point of cultural convergence between sonic expression and technology.

    Having grown steadily since 2004, the festival currently pairs musical acts, futurist keynotes and a slew of installations which are developed over the course of 6-12 months. Attendees of all ages delve into interactive artworks and participate in new ways of engaging and thinking about sound and music. Embedded in all this is an experiential educational component where some 200 kids from regionals schools come to experience the convergence of technology and music and also learn about concepts underpinning the work of Theramin or Don Buchla. One of the key festival sponsors, RTP (Research Triangle Park) is part of this strategic focus on

    We interviewed Adam Katz to discuss the various collaborations which exemplify Bob Moog’s vision of opening a dialogue between artists and technologists and spur collaboration between the two fields.

    Katz talked about how the festival goes beyond spectacle and eye candy; many of the installations are grounded in conversations and new thinking about the future of creativity, “at its core is interested in the future of creativity and creative expression.”music-tech3music-tech4music-tech5music-tech6

    Katz also highlighted the meaning of partnership in this context:

    “At Moogfest, sponsors are also collaborators who help implement programming and installations of media art. You might just see the installation but inside each project is a connection to broader collaborations.”

    He outlined some of RTP‘s contributions to the festival and how they are considered one of the festival’s key contributors. This year they worked with Floating Points, a design collective out of New York, to create a touch-sensitive light installation which consisted of LED conductors. You can check out the responsive architecture piece by scanning their Twitter page.

    The Expressive Power of Data
    In looking at the Moogfest installations, we found clever expressions such as Kyle McDonald’s The WiFi Whisperer, which converts festival-attendees’ data into visually striking data visualizations and ambient soundscapes and melodies. Another is PLAY – Sound, an installation by IDEO which does something similar but in a different way where a playful interface is the main centerpiece which synthesizes inputs from around the festival into sound experiences.

    Expanding to data from around the world is Global Synth Project by sound artist Yuri Suzuki which transforms a world map into an electronic instrument by tapping sound scouts and audio adventurers at various localities. By touching the map, which is actually a Moog-designed synth modules, users tap into environmental sounds from around the

    There are endless possibilities at the intersection of technology and music; although many works take data and convert it into an audio experience, it’s also important to keep in mind that this convergence also includes other manifestations such as live coding, body-triggered performances and numerous ways of democratizing the performance of music and sound.

    Science and technology seem to have perpetually driven humanity towards new ways of experiencing music and sound, but it does seems that the we are experiencing a renaissance in the ways we engage with music and sound due to a deep convergence that is taking place between music and technology.