2012 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition Winners Challenge Your Preconceptions About Music

Winners have been announced in the 2012 Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition – an annual event to find the world’s best new ideas in musicality, design, and engineering.

Competition finals were held February 17, 2012 at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. Twenty-four inventors, composers and designers from nine countries were selected to compete, from more than 50 entries. Instruments were judged on musicality, design and engineering by a panel including Atau Tanaka, media artist and researcher, and Cyril Lance, chief engineer at electronic musical instrument manufacturer Moog Music.

The competition challenges preconceptions both about what is a musical instrument and what is music.

First place went to Marco Donnarumma, for Xth Sense, above. Xth Sense is a biophysical interactive system for musical and intermedia performance.


2nd place went to Kyle Evans for Cracked Ray Tube. Cracked Ray Tube is a collaborative hardware hacking project by artists Kyle Evans and James Connolly. The project creates a synchronized audio/video environment self-generated by the feeding back of communication networks of two obsolete technologies analog televisions with their video transmitters and CRT computer monitors and their VGA video signals.

Thrid place went to Bojan Gagic for LIGHTUNE.G.  LIGHTUNE.G (light+melody+tone G/50Hz) is the name of the collaborative duo consisting of Bojan Gagic and Miodrag Gladovic, Lighterature Reading. The project is based on the conversion of light from luminous objects into tone images via the photovoltaic effect generated through solar panels (under the influence of light, solar panels – silicon cells.

See the full slate of preliminary performances at the competition site.

8 thoughts on “2012 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition Winners Challenge Your Preconceptions About Music

    1. Thanks for the clarification. I almost enjoyed these creative pieces, but then your pronouncement pulled me back from the brink. Good think you did, too. Imagine what other sounds in the world I might have come to enjoy!

  1. it’s kind of hard to tell what musical development might take place in these works when all you see & hear is a half minute. I bet your music sounds crappy too to a listener from the previous generation.

  2. Seriously people, get over the “whole waving your arms around makes you more expressive” crap! These people are manipulating the same real-time controllable parameters the rest of us are. In fact, often times they are controlling less than the rest of us due to the extremely low resolution of their motion capture devices. There is NOTHING new going on with these things other than someone emoting a bunch while using a mo-cap gizmo.

    No new sounds are created by waving your arms. None. None at all. It’s simply an XY Kaos style controller using your arms and a pre-defined area of space in which a camera is pointing. Maybe you add a third dimension for near far. Fine. Now you are up to an XY pad and one knob. How amazing you are!

  3. My feelings can be essentially summed up in two lines (not counting this one)

    These are the Jackson Polloks of audio.

    I hate Jackson Pollock.

  4. Actually Xtopher, you should research his instrument before you make claims. He has low frequency microphones attached to his arms that pick up the subtle sounds of his muscle movements. The low sounds you are hearing are comming from his muscles and he is processing them digitally, which is also controlled by his muscle sounds. It’s a bio sensor piece. No camera, no pre defined positions. That seems pretty new to me.

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