Mobile Phone Orchestra/NIME2008

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Title of the work

MoPhO: Mobile Phone Orchestra Suite (MoPhOrCC)

Name (composer(s)/artist(s)/performer(s))

  • MoPhO directors: Ge Wang, Georg Essl, Henri Penttinen
  • composers: Ge Wang, Georg Essl, Jeff Cooper, Henri Penttinen

Institution or company

institution: CCRMA, with support from Deutsche Telekom and Nokia


660 Lomita Dr. Stanford, CA 94305

Email (one e-mail contact per submission)

Year of composition


Duration of performance

16' - 20'


12 mobile phones (no external amplification)

Narrative description of the work

The Mobile Phone Orchestra is a new repetoire-based ensemble using mobile phones as the primary musical instrument. The MoPhO Suite contains a selection of recent compositions that highlights different aspects of what it means to compose for and perform with such an instrument in an ensemble setting.

Brief program note (250 words max) for inclusion in concert program / proceedings

The Mobile Phone Orchestra of CCRMA (MoPhO) presents an experimental ensemble suite featuring music performed on mobile phones. Far beyond ring-tones, these interactive musical works take advantage of the unique technological capabilities of today's hardware, turning phone keypads, built-in accelerometers, and built-in microphones into powerful and yet mobile chamber meta-instruments.

  • Drone In/Drone Out (Ge Wang): human players, mobile phones, FM timbres, accelerometers.
  • TamaG (Georg Essl): TamaG is a piece that explores the boundary of projecting the humane onto mobile devices and at the same time display the fact that they are deeply mechanical and articifical. At the same time it explores the question how much control we have in the interaction with these devices or if the device itself at times controls us. The piece work with the tension between these positions and crosses the desirable and the alarming, the human voice with mechanical noise. The alarming effect has a social quality and spreads between the performers. The sounding algorithm is a non-linear algorithm called circle map which is used in easier to control and hard to control regimes to evoke the effects of control and desirability on the one hand the the loss of control and mechanistic function on the other hand.
  • The Phones and Fury (Jeff Cooper and Henri Penttinen): how much damage can a single player do with 10 mobile phones? Facilitating loops, controllable playback speed, and solo instruments.
  • Chatter (Ge Wang): this places the audience in the middle of a web of conversations.

Artist biographies

The Mobile Phone Orchestra is a new repetoire-based ensemble using mobile phones as the primary musical instrument, founded in 2007/08 at Stanford University by Ge Wang, Georg Essl, and Henri Penttinen.

Georg Essl is currently Senior Research Scientist at Deutsche Telekom Laboratories at TU-Berlin, Germany. He works on mobile interaction, new interfaces for musical expression and sound synthesis algorithms that are abstract mathematical or physical models. After he received his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Princeton University under the supervision of Perry Cook he served on the faculty of the University of Florida and worked at the MIT Media Lab Europe in Dublin before joining T-Labs.

Ge Wang received his B.S. in Computer Science in 2000 from Duke University, PhD (soon) in Computer Science (advisor Perry Cook) in 2007 from Princeton University, and is currently an assistant professor at Stanford University in the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). His research interests include interactive software systems for computer music, programming languages, sound synthesis and analysis, music information retrieval, new performance ensembles (e.g., laptop orchestras) and paradigms (e.g., live coding), visualization, interfaces for human-computer interaction, interactive audio over networks, and methodologies for education at the intersection of computer science and music. Ge is the chief architect of the ChucK audio programming language and the Audicle environment. He is a founding developer and co-director of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), and a co-creator of the TAPESTREA sound design environment. Ge composes and performs via various electro-acoustic and computer-mediated means.

Set-up and rehearsal time required

set-up time: 5-10 minutes rehearsal time: 2 x 45 minutes in the performance space

Detailed technical requirements (sound, light, stage area, etc.)

standard stage lighting, no sound system, standard stage area with possibility of surround audience

Document of the technical set up (plans, drawing, sketch)

we refer you to the submitted images and video to provide a sense of the setup

Images showing the work

Links to additional audio-visual documentation