iPhone: The Up and Coming Musical Instrument?

By Meera Dolasia on December 14, 2009

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Do you play an instrument, or maybe more than one? If not, would you like to? Now a group of Stanford students have added a new instrument to your list of possibilities: the iPhone.

While most of us think of the iPhone as a nifty device for texting, calling, or passing time with the various, if sometimes bizarre applications, the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra, better known as MoPhO, sees it differently. They view it as an instrument that can be used to compose music by creatively combining the various sounds and 'jingles' of the iPhones - perfectly meshing the world of technology and music, with the mere touch of a fingertip.  

On Thursday, December 3rd, a small group of MoPHO's students and faculty demonstrated their musical prowess to a room full of enthusiast. Playing their iPhones, upright or laying down, the group impressed the crowd with their innovative and original compositions. While not always in perfect harmony, the various jingles were interspersed with complicated pieces that simulated daily life situations (like a rainy day) or just plain music.

The production was directed by Stanford University's Professor Ge Wang whose one life goal is to get people to adopt the iPhone as an instrument, making it the first of its kind that can be carried around in the pocket and 'played' by millions of people all over the world.

His software company 'Smule' creates applications that not only mimic the sounds of real-life instruments, but also, the way they are played. For example, their most successful application, Ocarina, mimics a flute: to 'play' it, the user must blow on the microphone, while placing the fingers on the virtual holes on the screen - just like the real deal!

His dream is to host a concert, comprising of musicians and amateurs from all over the world, all playing the iPhone.

While music 'purists' argue that the iPhone is not and will never be accepted, as a real musical instrument, MoPHO and a number of other similar groups, has opened the world of music to a whole new set of musicians - people who love technology and also like music, but not enough to spend years practicing an instrument.

sources:news.stanford.edu, nytimes.com, mashable.com

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33 Comments
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  • Nicola1/10/2014
    so cool
    • la_eliza
      la_eliza5/24/2013
      That is sweet!
      • Sarah5/5/2013
        wow! cool
        • noyah2/17/2013
          Cooliobros
          • jscranton20
            jscranton201/29/2013
            cool
            • Mia11/29/2012
              I like the harp too!
              • dude11/29/2012
                I wish it has a violin
                • janna11/12/2012
                  There are alot of cool apps you can use to make music! How do you know maybe in 30 years there will only be digital instuments!
                  • alltech25
                    alltech2510/5/2012
                    I have the Magic Piano app, I love Smules Work!
                    • boakim 1/24/2012
                      i love music

                      Vocabulary

                      demonstratedinnovativeinterspersedprowesssimulated

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