Center for Music Technology opens

Last Friday, Tech launched the Center for Music Technology (CMT), a new unit of the College of Architecture (CoA).

The CMT is jointly funded by the CoA, the College of Engineering, the College of Computing and the Office of the Provost.

The occasion was commemorated by an open house, where CMT researchers and students showcased their projects to potential collaborators and Tech faculty.

“This center is something we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Frank Clark, director of the Department of Music.

“Traditionally, there haven’t been many sustained efforts in creating partnerships across Tech’s campus to combine [the field of] music with computing, engineering or architecture,” Clark said.

Friday’s launch event was held in the Couch Building, where each room housed examples from the CMT’s different research projects.

On the first floor, the Multimedia Performance, Music Training and Therapy, Instrument Acoustics, Modular Synthesizers and Music Intelligence groups featured their work in the individual studios.

Specific projects included a tactile glove that uses vibration motors to play a song on a person’s hand as he or she is listening to it and an automatic accompaniment machine that can detect a player’s tempo and rhythm, while producing a certain level of improvisation.

Also shown was Flou, a three-dimensional network music video game that allows the player to mix melodies and beats together to create their own original musical mix.

“I’ve always loved computers, music and composing,” said Anthony Floccari, second-year CS major and an undergraduate researcher at the CMT.

Under the direction of Clark, Floccari designed and built a device that allows a person to mix images, videos and music by moving their hands over motion sensors.

“We came up with a way to connect video machines with a Mac, keyboards, two midi instruments and foot pedals to create a true multimedia instrument,” Floccari said.

“Our projects can be used in a variety of practical applications. For example, we use vibrameters on traditional instruments like pianos and guitars to test surfaces, so we can come up with the best design and quality of sound for different playing styles,” said William Hunt, head of the Acoustics Group in the CMT.

On the second floor of the Couch Building, the space was dedicated to showing off new designs for musical instruments, robots that responded to musical input, and a distributed music project called Covey.

In Covey, movement through space is connected to music. A player can control the pitch, brightness and volume of the music by physically moving through a given space.

“A lot of our research here, especially with Covey, involves audience participation [and] collaboration, meaning … the audience does not just sit back during a concert, but [they are] actively engaged in creating music,” said Jason Freeman, head of the Distributed Music Group.

Most of the student researchers in the CMT are graduate students with backgrounds in a wide variety of fields.

This is only the second year that the Department of Music has offered a master’s degree program in Music Technology, and a proposal to create a Ph.D. program in Music Technology is in the works.

“In today’s world, music is increasingly tied to video, visual stimulus and mobile computing,” Clark said. “Why shouldn’t Tech students be able to combine their passion for engineering with their passion for music?”