A background to Hyperinstruments :

[A Hypercello]

Tod Machover started the Hyperinstrument Group at the MIT Media Lab in 1986, with the goal of designing expanded musical instruments, using technology to give extra power and finesse to virtuosic performers. Such hyperinstruments were designed to augment guitars and keyboards, percussion and strings, and even conducting, and have been used by some of the world's foremost musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Peter Gabriel, and members of Pierre Boulez's Ensemble InterContemporain. Since 1992, the focus of the Hyperinstrument Group has expanded in an attempt to build sophisticated interactive musical instruments for non-professional musicians, students, and music lovers in general.

Part of this work is focused upon the principle of engaging participants in an active, kinetic relationship with the musical process--be it with composition, interpretation, improvisation, or some new experience which can only exist with the aid of a computer. Though great technological advances have been made in music for sound production, processing, and compositional aids, these tools have far outpaced our ability to control them in musically interesting ways. Musical interfaces, whether for experts or novices, must possess a refined physical control and an intuitive link with the sounds they produce. A keyboard key which produces a giant electronic gong will not "play" as well as an instrument which requires a swing of the arm to produce the same sound. Moreover, as the musical elements we choose to offer for users' real-time control become more abstract -- concepts such as tempo, embellishment, or rhythmic activity -- the question of interface becomes even more challenging.

Examples of "classic" Hyperinstrument projects are:

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