An Orchestra of Linux Laptops, and How to Make Your Own Laptop Instrument

For a generation of musicians of nearly every genre, the laptop has become an instrument. It’s easy to take for granted, but the rise of the computer for music has been remarkable. Less than twenty years ago, real-time digital synthesis and audio processing was the domain of expensive, specialized workstations. Now, $700 per seat can buy you a full-blown musical rig, with the computer hardware, gestural input courtesy the Nintendo Wii controller, and even a DIY speaker made from IKEA salad bowls. The next challenge is to make this setup as flexible and reliable as possible. Enter Linux. According with …

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Can Laptops Be Expressive? Jamming on MacBooks at Stanford’s Laptop Orchestra

We routinely talk about how the interface paradigm of a computer — screen, QWERTY, trackpad – isn’t optimal for music. But how many of you have, in a pinch, done a live laptop set with just your computer, and found some way to make it work? The Stanford University Laptop Orchestra, set to play this year’s Macworld, natch, is making the most of what it has: “We tilt the notebook and use its built-in accelerometer to expressively control sound. We use the trackpad as a kind of violin bow,” explains Ge Wang, SLOrk’s founder. ”You can make some wild, diverse …

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