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Robots Rock World Music: The KarmetiK Machine Orchestra at CalArts

Click the video above to view a preview of KarmetiK Machine Orchestra's work! KarmetiK Machine Orchestra's debut performance at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) in Los Angeles.

Performance explores music's future as computers improvise with human musicians.

Valencia, CA--April 23--Global music joins the digital revolution. The KarmetiK Machine Orchestra combines traditional music from around the world with cutting edge engineering and high tech effects. Currently, its creators are building musical robots, digitally modifying traditional instruments and composing original music for an extravaganza at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:30 p.m.

For the performance, the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra will transform CalArts' Walt Disney Modular Theater into an immersive audio-visual installation.  The event takes place at 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355. Admission is free.

The Machine Orchestra's Musical Director, Ajay Kapur, and Production Director, Michael Darling, are California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) faculty members. CalArts is an acclaimed Los Angeles-area institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs in the visual and performing arts and the Machine Orchestra is a project of the Music Technology: Interaction, Intelligence and Design (IID) program at  The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and the Technical Direction program in the CalArts School of Theater.

Each robot and interface, employed by the orchestra, is designed, built, and programmed by either students in the program or their mentors who, along with Kapur and Darling, include world-famous technology innovator Trimpin.

Employing Kapur's background in musical robotics and sensor systems and Darling's years of experience in technical theatrical design and sculpture, the Machine Orchestra is taking the electronic ensemble into uncharted territories. In Kapur and Darling's class Robotic Design for Music and Media, "students combine new as well as reclaimed materials and mechanical parts into imaginative new instruments" which will be unveiled at the May 13th performance.

Kapur is a technologist with training in classical Indian music. His work revolves around one question: "how do you make a computer improvise with a human?" Using the rules set forth by Indian classical tradition, he builds new interfaces--modifying such instruments as the tabla, dholak and sitar with added microchips and sensor systems. He also invents completely new robotic musical instruments which can be programmed to perform along with human musicians.

CalArts is the perfect setting in which to mix high technology and global music. In the future, the varied and vibrant world music communities at CalArts will offer new directions and cultures for computer-assisted compositions ranging from Bali and Australia to West Africa and beyond.

More information:

Official KarmetiK Website

Machine Orchestra, Preview Video

California Institute of the Arts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater--CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on artmaking excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.

Last edited by Smith on Aug 18, 2010
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