iPhone Orchestras Making Music For A New Millennium

New fad or sea change in orchestrated music? The Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble at the University of Michigan is one of several university orchestras that have replaced traditional instruments with Apple's iPhones and their apps. Beethoven must be rolling over in his grave!

A first of its kind course titled "Building A Mobile Phone Ensemble," is being taught at the school with instruction as to how students can create instruments on their iPhones. Some of the techniques learned include tapping the touch screen and blowing into the smartphones' microphone similar to playing a flute.

Both iPhones and iPod Touches are attached to speakers, worn around the musicians' wrists, and the instruments produce a combination of familiar and never-heard-before sounds.

The iPhone apps that enhance the musical functionality and make up the orchestras new digital instruments can be purchased at  iTunes. The ones used by the University of Michigan include:

1) Ocarina: If you're a fan of the Zelda computer games, you will recognise the ethereal flute-like notes of this music app immediately. Blow in to the microphone and tap the screen to produce a melodic sound ($.99).

2) Band: This collection of virtual instruments includes a blues guitar and grand piano. Record the instruments, mix a track and play your composition to friends ($3.99).

3) ClearTune Chromatic Tuner: Use this chromatic tuner and pitch pipe to tune up a wide variety of musical instruments, and is accurate to within one hundredth of a semitone ($3.99).

4) SoundMatrix II: Follow in the footsteps of Little Boots with this Tenori-on style synthesizer. The two-track drum kit brings compositions to life, and you can layer up to 10 different voices on top of each other ($2.99).

5) Beaterator: Rockstar Games might be better known for the Grand Theft Auto series, but this music-maker is a gem. They've teamed up with Timbaland to produce Beaterator, which enables users to build and loop sounds to create their own composition ($4.99).

The first performance will be held Wednesday, December 9 at the Britton Recital Hall at the University of Michigan. Termed MoPho orchestras, the Michigan MoPho is one of a number of ensembles growing up around the globe in locations that include Stanford Univerisity, Helsinki and Berlin.

You can follow the Michigan MoPho on Twitter and Facebook... and when you get a chance, you might want tweet Tschaikowsky the news!

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