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An iPhone Can Make Music, but Is It Art?

December 5, 2009

Clire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft in NYT:

In a just-published article and an accompanying video, we take a look inside the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra, a chamber music ensemble whose instruments are Apple iPhones, held with fingerless gloves attached to small speakers.

IPhone applications that turn phones into instruments are popular downloads for both musicians and amateurs. They are appealing in part because they can be learned relatively easily. “They don’t require the hours and hours that a violin does,” said Daniel Trueman, a professor of music at Princeton University and director of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra. He worked with Ge Wang, an assistant professor at Stanford who directs the mobile phone orchestra, when Professor Wang was a graduate student.

“Both the laptop orchestra and the cellphone orchestra have the potential to be just demonstrations of uses of technology,” he said. “But the intent is really to create a place to make music. If you put good musicians together with this technology, they will make good music with it.”

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