StringTrees (2010-2014)

This research is set against a theoretical/philosophical background regarding the nature of human-instrument relationships, from which I defined a conceptual space to explore through design, and then engage in reflective accounting of putting the design into practice. The first prototype, created at SARC, was extremely robust, but heavy, difficult to regulate, and a bit scary!

The final version was created at Michigan, working with MA student Simon Alexander-Adams.

Innovative performance techniques emerged in response to the system, bringing aesthetic priorities and biases with them, as well as whatever implements at hand. A feature of not having a priori musical goal.

  • Muting
  • Tuning with “slides”
  • Manual plucking

Emergent behaviors and musical surprises

  • A consequence of distributed control
  • Tendency to “go with” surprises
  • Improvisatory character

Different Modes at High Speeds

  • Primary interaction is tuning/timbre
  • Sense that “the system is in control,” akin to an ornamental mode


  • Facilitated collaborative improvisation
  • Performances are episodic: Stable state -> transition -> stable state
  • Temporal nature / speed of automated behavior enforced different modes of interaction

Techno in Space

Here’s what happens when I challenge 15 Performing Arts Technology students to play Techno.

Sorry Kraftwerk. Oh yes they did.

Silver Apples of the Moon, tune by Isaac Levine. Arranged and performed by Electronic Chamber Music at the University of Michigan in the Chip Davis Technology Studio.

Chip Davis Visit

Perhaps the icing on the cake of our Electronic Chamber Music show Techno In Space in our magical new Chip Davis Technology Studio was the fact that Chip Davis himself came to both of our shows! It was a pleasure and honor to get to know such a wonderful man and brilliant mind. And he gave us a shout-out on the Mannheim Steamroller website:!

Chip Davis

In just 6 months, the Davis Technology Studio has already had profound impact on what we do, with a 16.2 channel (soon to become 32.2) immersive speaker with flexible networked audio with Dante and Rednet. Thanks Chip!

Chip in Davis