Tod Machover

Composer / Inventor / Educator

“Mr. Machover’s new quartet, …but not simpler…, is a vigorous, exciting study in speediness, full of tremolando figures, racing lines and iridescent passages..”

The New York Times

…but not simpler…,” Machover writes, “sounds like modern life, with glimpses of equilibrium that feel straightforward and well-earned, but hopefully not simplistic.” It is a soundtrack for the way we live now, at once a source of hope and of warning.

from Richard Dyer’s liner notes

“Machover seems to have struck the right balance between conceptual art and music at its purest level of feeling.”

This collection of Tod Machover’s music focuses on chamber and orchestral music composed during the last decade, both with and without electronic enhancement. Machover’s music is a fascinating blend of expressive and lyrical melody combined with a sophisticated ear for textural complexity. The resulting music is always a treat for the ears—colorful, vibrant, and rhythmically propulsive. The largest composition on this disc is the piano concerto Jeux Deux, scored for large orchestra (the work was commissioned and first performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra), with the soloist performing on a “hyperpiano”—a concert grand piano which interacts with sensors and computer programs in order to expand its technical possibilities. Machover produces cutting-edge music with a heart!

Composer’s Remarks

For the past 5 years or so, I’ve been working on some wild and unusual operas (the last one featured robots—or “Operabots”—onstage, a Musical Chandelier, and an entire stage that “comes alive”…more on that in another posting!), so I am thrilled that this new CD is pure music from one end to the other, and it is music that covers many moods and demonstrates most of my sonic passions. Some of the pieces are for full orchestra, others are for string quartet, and others are special mixed meditations where all boundaries are blurred. All use specially designed technology in some way (invented at the MIT Media Lab where I work), from an interactive hyperpiano, to miniatures that I composed with our graphic composing software Hyperscore, to an entire hyperorchestra. Like all my music, each piece is a mini-drama designed to take you on an emotional journey, often starting someplace you recognize and ending up quite far away, as if waking from a dream with a new perspective.

Also, I think you’ll feel the influence of my four favorite composers, the “4 B’s”—Bach, Beethoven, Byrd (of Shakespeare’s time and, I think, the greatest composer before Bach), and The Beatles, the greatest composer(s) after Bach???!!!—throughout the album. I think the CD has a bit of everything: memorable melodies, punchy rhythms, booming bass lines, and kaleidoscopic textures.

The performances on the CD are nothing short of spectacular, from Mike Chertock’s amazing virtuosity on the Hyperpiano, to the gorgeous sound of the Odense Symphony (Denmark) masterfully led by conductor Paul Mann, to not one but two great string quartets, the Ying Quartet (who commissioned all the quartet music, and are heard on the studio-produced interludes) and the brilliant young iO Quartet (Alexander Woods, Sarah Crocker, Beth Weisser and Chris Gross). These musicians play my gnarly, intricate music as if it was the most natural thing in the world (which—to me—it is, of course:), and I am incredibly grateful for their skill, devotion and artistry.

All the music has been put together as a true album, not just independent tracks, revolving around the search for calm and simplicity in our complex, crazy world.

Kickstarter Interview with Tod Machover