UBC Laptop Orchestra

UBC Laptop Orchestra

In the UBC laptop orchestra, we take various sensors (accelerometers, webcams, wiimotes, kinects etc.), hook them up to our computers and figure out how to use them as musical instruments. In February this year (2014), we travelled to Belgium to collaborate with engineering students in the Numediart lab at the University of Mons.

Here’s a link to the blog, which has a ton of videos and photos from the project:


and here’s a quick summary of some stuff I did this year:

Dramatic Events


This was a collaboration between Kieran Coulter (computer programmer/composer), Jason Wong (engineer), Diana Brownie (dance), and myself (composer/programmer/guitarist). The music and dance was about 60% improvised. Diana has an iPhone strapped to her back, which triggers sounds based on her movements. She also uses two PS move controllers to create atmospheric notes and to create a digital painting using the projector. Jason, has an iPad, which creates crinkling sounds when he uses the touch screen. We performed this in Mons:

and we got filmed in rehearsal for the Canadian Press:


Catching Echoes

This is an excerpt of a piece for Violin and Piano (played by Conor Stuart and Angelique Po). A bunch of weird things happen in this one. From the program notes: “The pianist bows an invisible vibraphone and grabs sound out of thin air, while the violinist distorts sound using his mystical magic watch.” Both players can also create bell sounds by playing certain notes on their instruments.


Oh yeah, and I got to improvise on my iPad for the Globe and Mail:


Here’s a photo from the shoot:

I was part of this both for laptop orchestra and for my own personal research:

The engineers made a video which shows off some of our instruments. I did the sounds/programming for Diana’s instrument (which you can see right away) and I also did the granular synthesis module for Greg’s instrument (the garbled voices).