Blessing or Curse? Hyper Instruments find entry in the opera

Hyper instruments are strange creatures. Some look like traditional instruments that are fed through tubes. Others look like oversized toys. They all have one thing in common, which is the ability to transform acoustic sound as well as human movements into electronic sound with help of sensor devices. Hyper instruments were invented by Tod Machover, who studied composition and worked at the IRCAM Institute in Paris for seven years before taking a professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Because of the nature of his instruments, Machover's operas "Valis" (1987) and "Brain Opera" (1996) blew away any tradition. However, Machover walked the more traditional path for the first time in the summer of 1999. His opera "Resurrection," which was premiered at the Houston Grand Opera, uses only two hyper instruments along with a traditional orchestra. This raises the question whether hyper instruments are about to eliminate jobs in the orchestra pit. On the other hand, hyper instruments could nurture young children's interest in music, says the composer. Georg Hirsch has followed the history of hyper instruments.

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