I spend my time schizophrenically divided between the 18th and 21st centuries. I do most of my creative work in an 18th century barn about 20 minutes west of Harvard Square, and develop new technologies for music expression and creativity at the MIT Media Lab. My mom is a piano teacher and high-culture vulture; my dad is a computer graphics pioneer and popular culture fanatic. Strongly influenced and intrigued by my family, I spend my time trying to reconcile humanism and science, nature and technology, emotion and thinking, simplicity and complexity. And I try to express this in the quirky melodies, harmonies, rhythms and textures that I concoct. I have been drawn to opera since it allows me to combine all of these interests, but I also still love composing “pure” music, with no words, no stories…..and no robots! Professionally speaking, I studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at Juilliard, was a member of the original team at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris, and am professor of music and media at the MIT Media Lab. I love the malleable, experimental aspect of technology, and this has led me to invent Hyperinstruments for expanding musical creation (including the technologies behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band), to exploring new forms of interactive performance (some of which get audiences/crowds involved), and to trying to expand music to promote wellness and diagnose/cure disease. Every time I finish a project or composition, I am happiest with the new questions that arise – often unexpectedly – and inspire me to start all over again.
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