Skip to content
Surprising Science

Laptop Orchestra

Laptop orchestras transcend "old world" performances by offering a new way for people to make music together, challenging the notion of what's considered a musical instrument.

What’s the Latest Development?

Composer, performer and professor Dan Trueman is the co-founder of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, a travelling orchestra composed of an “ensemble of computer-based musical meta-instruments.” What does that mean? “A laptop orchestra is much like a ‘real’ orchestra. A group of players gets together with the goal of playing a piece—composed ahead of time or improvised—for an audience, except that their instruments are on the computer.” The Laptop Orchestra, also known as PLOrk, is often identified as the first laptop-based orchestra. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The ubiquity of new technology is also democratizing the music industry, even the classical genre. “Laptops are everywhere, and the notion that they could be musical ‘instruments’ and that we could play with one another is intriguing,” Trueman said. “It’s also a great equalizer; laptops don’t intimidate and imply decades of practice the way, say, violins do, so people who might otherwise think they are ‘not musical’ might be willing to give it a go. … Another way to put this is that we can set the bar for entry wherever we want.”


Up Next