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Tod Machover

My passion is people, and music has long been my preferred medium for thinking about people and about life: I think to compose; I think through composing.

On the surface, we seem to be in the midst of a musical renaissance: music surrounds us in elevators, sports arenas, cars, and kitchens. Downloaded and remixed at will, it is an ever-present accompaniment to everyday life. It has been said that music provides the closest "map of our minds." But beneath the surface, the picture is not so bright. Much of this sonic surfeit is mere wallpaper, a comforting background that dulls—rather than intensifies—our imagination and curiosity.

Tod Machover

We must reinvigorate and reinvent music so that it reaches its full potential. Technology is key, providing "skill augmenters" for performance; allowing manipulation and exploration of musical materials; opening doors to composing and improvising; and facilitating expressive communication and collaboration. Such new tools can be adapted to any level of skill or experience, enhancing expressive power for virtuosi while permitting amateurs of all ages to learn and create. For the past 15 years, we have developed instruments, environments, and compositions in all of these areas, from a Hypercello for Yo-Yo Ma, to a Sensor Chair for Penn & Teller, to our recent Toy Symphony, which brings together young and old, experienced and novice, and enables anyone to design their own music.

It is now time to establish a musical language for the future: one that zooms between atoms and galaxies of sound; that finds beauty in natural and artificial hybrids, stretching past the "electric" to the physical and the ephemeral; that speaks with immediate impact while promising layers of secrets; and that touches on every known thought and feeling while leading to unimagined horizons.

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Favorite childhood toy: dressing up as historical figures; Teddy Roosevelt was my specialty
Copyright 2003 MIT Media Laboratory; Image Michael Witte