Music ensemble performs concert on iPhones

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The Independent Culture

Part of an expanding new MoPho (mobile phone) music movement, the University of Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble (MiPho) gave its first public performance of electronic compositions December 9 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, using their iPhones as instruments.

Nine college students took the stage at the direction of Assistant Professor of Engineering and Music, Georg Essl. With handheld smart phones in hand and small custom-built wearable speakers attached to their wrists, MiPho made music, or an audio performance, together. No downloads or ringtones. That would be cheating.

Various technologies with the devices allow the 'musicians' to create strange, intriguing, and unique sounds—and noises, including what a student calls the Fuzz Generator. Blow into an iPhone's microphone to create whistles. Tilt the screen up or down to manipulate the volume. The audio samples include techno sounds, haunting echos and various "explorative forms of musical expression."

These students in Performing Arts Technology, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science work with Essl who created a similar MoPhoO (mobile phone orchestra) at Stanford in 2007, as well as in Helsinki and Berlin.

He is currently developing an app to transform the iPhone into a chamber musical instrument.