Archive for Sunday, November 27, 2011

iCompose: Student uses smartphone to make music

Jason Charney, a senior from Overland Park, has developed some novel technology for the iPhone for music performance. Recently Charney composed a piece and performed it at the Apple Store in Chicago. He demonstrated his composition recently here in Lawrence.

November 27, 2011


Compass by Jason Charney

KU music major Jason Charney makes compositions on his iPhone

Kansas University senior Jason Charney, of Overland Park, shakes an iPhone that he uses to perform music he has created using the device.

Kansas University senior Jason Charney, of Overland Park, shakes an iPhone that he uses to perform music he has created using the device.

Kansas University music composition student Jason Charney’s latest piece doesn’t make music using traditional instruments such as horns, violins and pianos. Instead, he uses his iPhone and a computer to generate sounds.

When performing his piece “Compass,” Charney will at times shake the phone, raise it high above his head, spin it and adjust levels on the touch screen. All of the actions cause different sounds.

“I’m very interested in interactive music,” said the senior from Overland Park.

While he enjoys composing this electronic music, with its synthesized sound and shattering glass effects, he’s composed classical music, too.

Charney has taken three courses in electronic music from the KU School of Music’s specialist in the area, Kip Haaheim, an associate professor of music composition.

“He doesn’t get caught up in the technology,” Haaheim said. “He uses the technology effectively, but he never loses sight of the art.”

“The technology” involves a lot of software development, Haaheim said. Charney was able to find the basic programming structure that allowed the iPhone to interact with the computer from another user in the small community of people interested in this kind of music, Haaheim said.

But most of the software necessary for the performance he had to create himself. Charney has found himself on the cutting edge of the field, his professor said.

“It’s not like something that’s commercially available like Garage Band,” Haaheim said. “This goes way beyond that.”

Charney said he’s performed the piece with the iPhone in an Apple store in Chicago, and it’s attracted more attention than he thought. As for his future, he’s open to a number of different pathways.

“If I can make a living making music, I’ll be happy,” he said.

That may be easier today than it was in years past, Haaheim said. In addition to opportunities in academia and the film industry, today’s video game developers are paying for original music, too.

“They put some real dollars into the production of the music and generally put out some high-quality stuff,” he said.

And from a professor’s standpoint, working with a motivated and intelligent student like Charney isn’t an opportunity that comes along that often.

“You get a student like this once every 10 years,” Haaheim said. “He’s a delight.”


David Holroyd 6 years, 2 months ago

Can he play any instruments? Violin? viola? cello? piano? harpsichord? bassoon, flute, clarinet, tuba, saxophone, drums, maybe even the cymbals?

Now that would be a student who comes once in every 10 years Mr. Haaheim! JUst curious Prof Haaheim, what kind of students are you getting every 9 years?

MarcoPogo 6 years, 2 months ago

Yup! The people who created GarageBand are a bunch of complete failures. They should be burned at the stake, just like the stupid architects who create drafting software instead of being out building buildings.

Probably liberals...

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

or (shutter) progressives. Where would the world be without them?

Terry Sexton 6 years, 2 months ago

Impressive! I see that Antonym loves it because he posted the opposite (I'm catching on).

Wilbur, just because you only have one eye doesn't mean you need a narrow mind to match.

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

Good grief, people. I don't even know what to say about the negativity here. He's doing something none of you will ever, in your wildest dreams, be able to do. And, yes, this does take talent and it is special, even if it is a "gimmick."

Jaon, pay no mind to these people. We'd still be in the dark ages if everybody was like them.

And thanks, LJW, for having articles like this for those of us who are interested in what people are coming up with.

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

Jason, not Jaon. I'm using somebody's cheap laptop.

meggers 6 years, 2 months ago

This is a great integration of the arts and technology. Congratulations to Jason for developing the software to make it work so seamlessly.

On the side of irony, the video accompanying the article is an Adobe Flash video, which isn't supported by iOS. Flash is quickly becoming obsolete, anyway. It's just ironic that this particular video can't be viewed on an iPhone.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.