“[Tutti] is an example of using our mobile devices to enrich our lives musically in new ways—letting us have virtual experiences—such as feeling what it is like to be a musician.”
–Eran Egozy, Project Lead and Professor of the Practice, Music and Theater Arts, MIT
Tutti is a massively participatory music-making experience for members of a large audience, who perform using cellphones as simple musical instruments. Started by Danielle Penny ’17 as a senior project, it has evolved into an ongoing collaboration among Eran Egozy, Evan Ziporyn, and Nick Joliat.
In Tutti, audience members play “Engineered Engineers,” a new piece composed by Ziporyn based on a well-known MIT drinking song. The audience is divided into four orchestra sections (winds, strings, brass, and percussion), and each audience member’s cellphone is then transformed into a one-button instrument that can play the appropriate notes for the chosen part.
All audience phones (perhaps as many as a thousand) must be precisely synchronized to a common clock so that they can all play together in a coordinated fashion—hence the name “Tutti” (an Italian musical term meaning “all together”). A large video display indicates when members of the audience orchestra should start and stop playing. The piece is designed to show off interesting musical dynamics among the groups such as unison play, call-and-response phrases, gradual buildups, and a grand pause.
The work is about three minutes long and is meant to give audiences a taste of what it feels like to play in a large musical ensemble. No one needs to know how to read music; simply following the “graphical score” (video display) and working together ensures a successful musical outcome for all.
Eran Egozy, Project Lead and Professor of the Practice, Music and Theater Arts, MIT
Launched: September 2017 at the MIT Campaign for a Better World Boston Event and at MIT’s Festival of Learning in 2019