A new installation at the Mendelssohn Museum in Leipzig, Germany lets you do exactly that, no music school required. The Mendelssohn Effektorium, by design studio WhiteVOID, is an interactive installation that allows you to have complete control over a virtual symphony. In this world you’re Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and your instruments come in the form of 13 upright speakers with digital displays on them.
Each of these speakers corresponds to a certain instrument group: woodwinds, brass, percussion, vocals and so on. It’s up you how much spotlight each instrument gets and how fast the tempo moves. Ever wanted to know what “The Wedding March” sounds like without the crashing cymbals? Or how the “Spring Song” translates when slowed way, way down? This is your chance.
The installation is controlled through a 32-inch touchscreen that basically serves as your sheet music. From there you can choose which piece you’d like to conduct and which instruments to include or exclude. The concert begins when you pick up the wooden conductors baton. Start swinging it around and you’ll notice the music reacts to your motions. A Leap Motion sensor calculates your speed based on the pendulum interval of your movements and adjusts the tempo accordingly. “After comparing the conducted speed to the current original speed (beats per minute) of the musical piece, the playback is either slowed down or accelerated respectively,” explains Christopher Bauder of WhiteVOID.
A MacMini mixes the audio on the spot, so the translation of your movement and instrument choices to sound is instantaneous. As far as interactive installations go, this one is pretty straightforward, but it’s a pretty magical nonetheless. Really, how often do you get the chance to totally change a masterpiece?
Liz Stinson (WIRED.com) / May 2, 2014