an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Tomorrow’s string sound? Google applies Glass technology to form an orchestra of violas

Every media outlet you open today is full of Google chief Eric Schmidt and his goggle device that is supposed to make the world even more automatic than it already is. To give one example of what Glass can do, Google creative director Alexander Chen played a snippet of music on his viola while wearing Google Glass.

‘I thought it would be fun to create a song by layering short video loops,’ he writes. ‘So I spent an afternoon improvising melodies, filming it on Google Glass. Then I pieced it all together into a small orchestra.’ Here’s the result.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Philip Glass should be getting a royalty on that somehow..

  2. This piece is neither a song nor music suggestive of a song. It’s a mere gimmick and not music at all.

    Louis Torres, Co-Editor, Aristos (An Online Review of the Arts), Co-Author, ‘What Art [including music] Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand’ (Open Court, 2000) – /

    • What a stupid thing to say. It’s music. Trust me, you can groove to it if you come out of your shell and stop being such a freaking elitist. You think you know what art is, and you seem to believe you are an authority on it with a monopoly on categorization of the constituents. In art, all is possible. Art challenges. And the fact that it is out of tune actually makes the piece more interesting, and better dare I say it. Lighten up. There can be no elitism where there is purity of expression. And in this piece is expressed the jollity of a summer afternoon, a child pacing about the living room, wondering at the miracle of sound emanating from that viola. Learn some sincerity [redacted].

  3. Just goes to show, while the technology may be marvellous, it still can’t tune your strings for you…

    • Chris Walsh says:

      Actually, there’s no reason at all why Google Glass, or some similar technology, couldn’t help you to tune your strings. I use an app called Cleartune on my iPhone to tune my cello. It’s entirely feasible that someone could build an app for Google Glass that would provide the same kind of tuning interface, reflecting a tuning scale onto the wearer’s eye as they tune up.

  4. Graf Nugent says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing how Google Glass performs when worn behind the wheel of a moving car. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are not going to be giggling about viola orchestras when drivers are too busy checking their e-mail to concentrate on the road.

  5. José Bergher says:

    As monotonous as most pieces by Claude Bolling.

  6. Owen Gordon says:

    @Louis – ‘a mere gimmick and not music at all’.
    Really? I can hear rhythm, harmony and quite a catchy tune as it goes on.
    I’m not sure it’ll win any awards, but hey I enjoyed it and kudos to Alexander for taking the time to make it. Thanks for sharing.

    • For some, if it is not a derivative of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Concerto, then it ain’t musick.
      I rather liked the above and its possible applications.

  7. Naughty Nigel says:

    I too can hear rhythm, harmony and a catchy tune, perhaps more suited as a mobile phone ring tone, but like the ‘other’ sort of Glass it just goes on, and on until we all become, well, er, double glazed? :)

  8. That’s enough violas

  9. Yes, it is quite catchy, although it is also a gimmick. I played it full through, which says something!

  10. José Lastarria says:

    What is the point, really? Nothing about this latest gimmick seems honestly useful.

    • Mike Shuldes says:

      Although gimmicky, creating a loop or recording a part, and playing over it can be an extremely useful practice tool. For example, a musician might record the second part of a piece and then play the first part over the recording, layering on all parts until you’ve become your own section.

      This helps us to practice tuning relationships, develop stylistic ideas, and have the benefit of instant feedback on our work. This is NOT a new concept, but anything that makes the process more user friendly is a welcome addition to the practice room tool belt.

  11. Christopher Oakmount says:

    Amateur and professional musicians have always used mutitrack demos to play with ideas or to improvise for their own pleasure. There is no great difference if it is an old 4-track tape recorder or google glasses. Nothing Earth-shaking here. Some people seem very easily impressed (or scared) of new gadgets, while they do not really change the nature of music as such in any way.
    Amazing though, how violent some people reacted to the music video. Why the need to write abuse on someone having fun with musical ideas? Of course he wasn’t out to challenge the hegemony of JS Bach.
    Everybody cool it, please.

  12. BoxerFour says:

    It’s just a demo and you’re missing the point entirely if your comments are about a tuning app or whether or not this constitutes a song. He’s using glasses, eye glasses, to make a movie. What did you do creative today?

  13. This is another example of what the late Derek Bell (“The Chieftains”) referred to as “playing with oneself”.

  14. Perfectly serviceable underscore, or even main title music, for just about any ‘indie’ film currently in production. And, IMO, delightful in its own right- straight up folk music if you still care about such categories/genres.

  15. I thought this was fun! Celebrate the spirit of creativity. Plus it uses the rich and distinctive voice of the viola!

an ArtsJournal blog