The Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) is a large-scale, computer-mediated ensemble that explores cutting-edge technology in combination with conventional musical contexts - while radically transforming both. Founded in 2008 by director Ge Wang and students, faculty, and staff at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), this unique ensemble comprises more than 20 laptops, human performers, controllers, and custom multi-channel speaker arrays designed to provide each computer meta-instrument with its own identity and presence. The orchestra fuses a powerful sea of sound with the immediacy of human music-making, capturing the irreplaceable energy of a live ensemble performance as well as its sonic intimacy and grandeur. At the same time, it leverages the computer's precision, possibilities for new sounds, and potential for fantastical automation to provide a boundary-less sonic canvas on which to experiment with, create, and perform music.
Offstage, the ensemble serves as a one-of-a-kind learning environment that explores music, computer science, composition, and live performance in a naturally interdisciplinary way. SLOrk uses the ChucK programming language as its primary software platform for sound synthesis/analysis, instrument design, performance, and education.
The Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Acoustics Project seeks to explore the acoustics and instruments of Chavín de Huántar, a pre-Inca ritual center in the north-central sierra of Peru. The site complex includes an extensive underground network of labyrinthine corridors, shafts, and drains built of stone block, intact and primarily without post-period modification since the end of monumental construction around 600 B.C. The project has several aims: to measure, analyze, archive, and model the acoustics of Chavín, culminating in simulations for public interface and archaeological research tools.
The Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford recently received a donation of an extensive collection of pre-1920 audio recordings and equipment. The collection provides an astonishing audio portrait of the United States one hundred years ago. The goal of this project is to make these materials widely available for educational purposes. The collection is housed at CCRMA.
The collection includes over 1500 pre-1920 cylinder recordings, cylinder players and supporting peripheral equipment and materials. The recordings include classical, popular, folk, spiritual and march music, Vaudeville routines and speeches.
Supported by funds from the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, we are currently in the process of digitizing, cataloging and documenting each recording.
The actual collection can be used as teaching and research materials for classes and individual research at Stanford. The seeds of this project were sown as part of a freshman seminar on Technology and the Arts. The materials are currently being cataloged, researched and transferred by graduate and undergraduate research associates with the goal of making the collection available to all. The cylinders and players are available by arrangement for student, faculty and community use. Student projects using these materials include:
- historical studies of popular American culture,
- historical research on the music and recording industries,
- the evolution of popular music,
- the history of popular dance
- engineering and scientific research on techniques of audio restoration, preservation and archiving.
As the cataloging and research efforts are primarily student projects this on-line museum of historical recordings will be continually developing.
The Music, Computing, and Design (MCD) research group, led by faculty member Ge Wang, conducts fun, innovative, and impact-producing research in computer music, including in (but not exclusive to) the following areas:
- design of software systems for computer music (of all types and scales)
- programming languages and interactive environments (e.g., ChucK)
- the social, cognitive, human aspects of music and computing
- software interfaces / interaction paradigms for composition, performance, and education
- music information retrieval
- computer-mediated performance ensembles (e.g., laptop orchestras; SLOrk)
- mobile music / social music (e.g., mobile phone orchestras, MoPhO, also see Smule)
- performances paradigms (e.g., live coding)
- education at the intersection of computer scence and music