USF iPadists ‘Touch’ the future of music
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 01:01
Times, they are a-changin’ — and that includes the music at USF.
On Friday, the USF English Department, School of Arts and School of Music will present a collaborative effort to combine technology and fine arts to the local community with the iPad quintet show, Touch: Louder than Ever Before.
David Williams, Associate Director of the School of Music, doesn’t look like a traditional music professor. With his pinky-promise handshakes and blue floral shirt he is certain to stand out in a crowd. But last year, Williams stood out more than ever as he presented the first USF iPad quintet formed solely by using the high-tech device.
“How did we come up with this idea — somebody invented the iPad and right away there were music apps,” Williams said. “So it wasn’t a very far leap to go ‘oh, there’s a new music
Williams found the portability of the Apple tablet more convenient than any other instrument, mostly because of its size and versatility of the apps. With the same special effects — and electronic music style for that matter — as a Muse concert, Williams decided to put on a show for anyone who would listen.
“The top singles on iTunes are full of digital music,” Williams said,
finding the top songs on his computer to play.
“Using the iPad is essentially just the natural progression of music with traditional music sounds with a new instrument that you can hold in one hand and play with the other.”
Joining Williams on stage are Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Music Education Clint Randles, and graduate students
Victor Ezquerra, Chris Morris and Nick Stefanic, who will use over twenty iPad music apps to provide anything from sound effects for theater performances to instruments used to cover pop songs by Norah Jones, Coldplay and Blake Shelton.
Their fingers dance across the screen of the tablet to produce the sounds of guitars, drums and sound effects similar to those of a keyboard, and whether it is to the brushstrokes of a painter or to the choreographed movement of dance, the quintet control it all with a tap, swipe or shake of their hand.
This year, Touch is much more than the group of five on stage simply playing with some iPad apps. The show also incorporates poetry and live creation of art, combined with the use of technology. Interaction is key for the show, as fans are encouraged to sing along and live tweet how they want an improvised version of “Wizard of Oz” to play out.
“In theater they refer to it as the fourth wall,” Wiliams said. “A stage has three walls, and we want to do away with the fourth wall and connect the audience while we’re performing. “
The show will end with a world-drumming piece, which features non-western percussion instruments. by a conductor who will
assign parts to the audience. Williams said if all goes well, they will not have to use the backup iPads kept in case any freeze up.
Williams said music professors are integrating the iPad as an instrument in their classes and students are receptive to the use of technology. While traditional instruments are still more widely used at USF, students are slowly figuring out that the growth of music is happening before their eyes, and the group of iPadists across the world is growing.
The Touch iPad quintet concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the USF Concert Hall. Advance tickets are $8 for students and seniors, and $12 for the general public.