The Spring 2022 issue of Experience Magazine is full of stories of musical innovation, from unconventional opera to groundbreaking electronic instruments. Listen to these audio clips to hear the future of music as it’s being written.
The Infinitone, an elongated pyramid of brass, resembles a futuristic soprano saxophone, with the usual mouthpiece, reed, and ligature. But while a sax’s keys attach to valves that open and shut, the Infinitone has five motorized slides that give it the flexibility of a trombone or guitar. The horn plugs into an iPad, which controls the slides. Rather than playing the instrument directly, the player touches the screen to play a colorful spectrum of 512 notes — 256 per octave, instead of the usual black-and-white 12. Read the full story
Laetitia Sonami, a visiting adjunct professor, is now working on several new projects, including the Spring Spyre, a ring-shaped instrument pieced together from found-metal materials. Its springs transmit signals from audio pickups into the computer. There, the machine analyzes each impulse, extracting certain features and using them to train the neural networks, which control and moderate the sound in real time. The result is a vast symphony of everything from a subtle snap or tweak to robust, sustained tones. “It can really be anything,” says Sonami. “It all depends on the training.”
Anthony De Ritis envisions the eventual Travesty Generator product as an operatic song cycle, with a group of mostly Black vocalists and instrumentalists from jazz, musical theater, and traditional opera backgrounds collaborating to shape the interpretation of each poem. In one early rehearsal last fall, Davron Monroe, a musical theater actor, and Brittany Wells, a jazz soprano, improvised a call-and-response repetition of the term “code switch,” accompanied by a bass clarinet. In another, Brianna Robinson, an emerging artist at the Boston Lyric Opera, sang variations of the line “I can’t breathe” in a soaring soprano, abruptly cutting her breath support and sound at intermittent moments.
Compared to her work in more traditional classical music, where the technical aspects are often set and written out for her, her first rehearsal on Travesty Generator was “a much more fluid experience,” Robinson says. She was adjusting elements like phrasing, volume, and even which octave she was singing in as she went along. “It’s a more theatrical type of performance — the way that maybe slam poetry is done, with breaks and giving things more emphasis, elongating words,” she says. Read the full story