Opera Of The Future

“I don’t want to wait for Elon Musk to tell me what music in space will be like”.

Neither do I. Neither. Do. I. 

 It was this sentence that won my heart. This sentence and, I have to say, the amazing research project that I got to know after. 

A couple of months ago, maybe less, I tagged along an artist friend who was visiting the MIT Media Lab. She had taken part in an Arts Hackathon, and was stopping by to discuss future partnerships between students/researchers and performance artists. Anyway, I got lucky and had a chance to tour and chat with a few research groups.

If you work with technology you know the weight of MIT and understand my excitement. If you know me personally, you’ve already heard about this -- now it’s time for you to read about it too :) If you don’t know me, I have to tell you about this really cool thing I saw. :))


MIT Media Lab has a research group that pretty much explores and reflects on the future of music. Instruments, expression, interfaces, interaction, how it evolves, all the things you would never think of, the unimaginable variables, the hypothetical scenarios - they do. And it’s pretty awesome. It’s called Opera of the Future. This is its formal description:

“Through the design of new interfaces for both professional virtuosi and amateur music-lovers, the development of new techniques for interpreting and mapping expressive gesture, and the application of these technologies to innovative compositions and experiences, we seek to enhance music as a performance art, and to develop its transformative power as counterpoint to our everyday lives. The scope of our research includes musical instrument design, concepts for new performance spaces, interactive touring and permanent installations, and "music toys." It ranges from extensions of traditional forms to radical departures, such as the Brain Opera, Toy Symphony, Death and the Powers, and City Symphonies.”

Being a former music journalist and having studied piano for too many years, I was so happy to see the projects the group has been working/worked on. When I think of music, it’s rarely in a futuristic way. I love records. I wrote a book about a scene from the 60/70’s. And even when I do integrate it in new media projects, it’s usually in a rather simplistic way, without too much reflection, by creating generative stems (I love hardware, though. Can I tell you about laser speakers?). To see music in a different light (to me) and with this conceptual and structural depth is so refreshing and a great, great reminder that music is so much bigger than what we mostly experience. There are so many layers of complexity to it.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re not here to read me talk about music. I strongly recommend you spend a few hours on the links they have in the group’s page. It’s really eye opening and really inspiring.

Back to tech.


The badass lady that said the sentence that opens this post is Nicole L'Huillier, Chilean musician, researcher, transdisciplinary PhD student at the Media Lab. She showed me one of her projects and it blew my mind.

Together with Sands Fish, she posed the million dollar question: what will culture in space look like? And with that in mind, they created The Telemetron, “a unique mode of musical performance that takes advantage of the poetics of zero gravity, and opens a new field of musical creativity. The project attempts to expand expression beyond the limits of earth-based instruments and performers. Leveraging sensors, data transmission and capture (for performance after flight), as well as their experience as composers and performers, Sands and Nicole explore a new body language for music.”

I just wanted to share. I hope you like it as much as I did.

And if this is what music in space will be like... Looking forward to it.