Music and Technology in Death and the Powers

Jessop, Elena and Torpey, Peter A. and Bloomberg, Benjamin

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

In composer Tod Machover’s new opera Death and the Powers, the main character uploads his consciousness into anelaborate computer system to preserve his essence and agencyafter his corporeal death. Consequently, for much of theopera, the stage and the environment itself come alive asthe main character. This creative need brings with it a hostof technical challenges and opportunities. In order to satisfythe needs of this storyline, Machover’s Opera of the Futuregroup at the MIT Media Lab has developed a suite of newperformance technologies, including robot characters, interactive performance capture systems, mapping systems for, , authoring interactive multimedia performances, new musical instruments, unique spatialized sound controls, anda unified control system for all these technological components. While developed for a particular theatrical production, many of the concepts and design procedures remain relevant to broader contexts including performance,robotics, and interaction design.