Daily Bow: The Hyperinstrument!


Everyone knows the reputation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a leader in science and technology. That spirit of innovation and creativity hasn’t escaped our attention here at String Visions. Researchers there are now employing cutting-edge research to develop a cello worthy of the legendary Yo-Yo Ma.

The cello is part of the Opera of the Future lab run by the infectiously energetic Tod Machover. A renaissance man for the 21st – or perhaps 22nd – century, Machover is a composer, inventor and teacher rolled into one. He sweeps into the office 10 minutes late, which is odd because his watch is permanently set 20 minutes ahead in a patently vain effort to be punctual. Then, with the urgency of the White Rabbit, he rushes me across the room to show me the cello. It looks like any other electric classical instrument, with a solid wood body and jack socket. But it is much more. Machover calls it a “hyperinstrument”, a sort of thinking machine that allows Ma and his cello to interact with one another and make music together.

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