‘Großer Herr’, From Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, On iPhones & iPads

Sunday Synth Jam: This video captures a performance by the DigiEnsemble Berlin of the aria Großer Herr, o starker König from the Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The oratorio is sung by Tobias Berndt.

The DigiEnsemble explores the state of the art of music performance on mobile devices. Music director Matthias Krebs chose the Bach aria with the intention of accomplishing a signifying step in the ensemble’s development.

Professors from the Berlin University of the Arts were consulted to optimize the musical adaption and musical interpretation. The technical performance level was enhanced by utilizing a number of elaborate controllers, including a new motion control app called MIDI In Motion by Florian Schwehn.

The DigiEnsemble documents the technical process behind their performance in this new ‘behind the scenes’ video:

The ensemble’s sound is created on the digital devices themselves.

Three apps run simultaneously. These are:

  • ThumbJam as a sampler for all instruments;
  • Geo Synth as the instrumental surface; and
  • MIDI In Motion as a motion controller of volume, connected via virtual MIDI.

9 thoughts on “‘Großer Herr’, From Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, On iPhones & iPads

  1. Ignore the sad/jaded comments and check out the making of video! We need to see more electronic musicians actually trying to perform music as ensembles, and the key to making it expressive will be using new types of MIDI controllers to add dynamics and life to the music.

  2. I think ensemble music played on iPhones and iPads is inherently goofy, especially when you sway as if you were working a cello. The upside is that they did an excellent, emotive job of it. Bach translates to any instrument, even things that would have made his eyes bug out if you’d suddenly handed him one. I’ve heard him well-rendered on harmonicas and marimbas. It doesn’t matter. Bach always = a WIN. I applaud anyone who keeps his flame going, because I’m one of those doofs who grins over the idea of Bach being handed Logic, 3 Kronos 88s, a pedalboard and whichever digital piano strikes him as being the most supersonic.

  3. This is one of the best performances of classical music using mobile gizmos I’ve seen. They did a great job. But what classical musicians really need to do is start applying all that skill and knowledge to composing something that is outside of the insanely strict rules they currently use. So many classical musicians live in a complete vacuum, and they do something like this and don’t realize how much amazing music has already been produced “electronically” by people all over the world for the last couple decades. A little broadening of their minds and approaches would start another world wide musical revolution, but instead they hide in colleges and huge halls.

  4. The only “problem” I see is the performers are looking at their instrument, instead of playing them while, let’s say ready their score. Every classical instrument is muscle memory based. Touch screens are not the best tools for that.

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