The NY Times had a great article this morning about a string quartet that has adapted to modern technology in a very intriguing way. The Borromeo String Quartet uses music stands like any other group. The only difference is that physical sheets of paper are not on the music stands. Instead, MacBook Pros adorn the stands and foot pedals are used to turn the digital pages of the score.
For anyone who plays music or has been to a concert, you know how distracting turning that page can be. In fact, most pianists have a page turner sitting next to them so as not to disrupt the flow of the music. This is no longer a problem if you are using a foot pedal that takes you to the next page.
The other benefit to the digital sheet music is that you can have the entire score in front of you to be able to see what the other instruments are doing. Typically, if you were playing the violin part, you would only want that part on your music stand so as to have the lease amount of page turns. But if you can turn the pages with your foot, space doesn’t become as big of an issue.
Here is a video of the Borromeo Quartet performing in front of their MacBooks:
The Borromeo Quartet also uses technology to record most of their performances and sell those recordings online. This is a big pull for concert goers who often have an emotional experience at a concert and wish to take that home with them in order to remember the experience. A number of music bands do this as well as a way to make additional income as cd sales and concert ticket revenues are down.
I love following these types of stories as music and technology are two of my biggest passions. I remember seeing the video of Lang Lang playing ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ for the first time on his iPad. Here is one of the best up and coming pianists in the world and he showed some versatility in playing a very difficult piece on his iPad. Here is the video:
Another video including a fascinating mix of music and technology is North Point’s iBand where an entire music group used either iPhones or iPads to play some Christmas music:
If you are interested in the foot pedal for turning pages, you can find more information here. They also have a solution for the iPad. The foot pedal works by plugging into a MacBook through a USB cord. The way you can use this on the iPad is by purchasing a camera connection kit that plugs into the bottom of the iPad. This also contains a USB input so you could use the foot pedal on the iPad.