The orchestra box

The Orchestra Box is a joint project of the Konzerthaus Berlin and the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences, and is currently being implemented as part of the APOLLO cooperation project. It ties in with the Konzerthaus Berlin’s augmented reality application “Virtual String Quartet”, enabling people to experience symphony orchestra instruments in a new and playful way. Music recordings for this project took place in the anechoic room of the TU Berlin on 8 and 9 February 2021. The next step will be to create digital 3-D models of the musicians, which will also be produced as figures using a 3-D printer.

Mini-Orchester fürs Klassenzimmer – mit fast echten Musiker*innen

Der analoge Teil der Anwendung umfasst eine Box, auf der 18 Musiker*innen des Konzerthausorchesters Berlin als Miniaturfiguren aus Kunststoff Platz finden. Angelehnt ist die Funktionsweise an die „Toniebox“, die bei Kindern im Kindergartenalter sehr beliebt ist.
Sobald eine Musiker*innen-Figur auf die Box gestellt wird, ertönt mittels eines RFID-Chips ihr jeweiliges Instrument. So können die Stimmen einzeln oder in Gruppen gehört werden, aber auch das ganze Orchester zusammen spielen. Anhand von Claude Debussys „Golliwogg’s Cake Walk“ aus „Children’s Corner“, das von Markus Syperek für 18 Instrumentalstimmen bearbeitet wurde, können Grundschulkinder hier ganz haptisch die Aufstellung eines Sinfonieorchesters erfahren.

Aufnahmen im reflexionsarmen Raum

The analogue part of the application comprises a box on which 18 Konzerthausorchester musicians are placed as miniature plastic figures. The way it works is based on the “Toniebox”, which is very popular with children of kindergarten age.

As soon as a musician figure is placed on the box, its respective instrument sounds out by means of an RFID chip. In this way, the instruments can be heard either individually or in groups, but the whole orchestra can also play together. Using Claude Debussy’s “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk” from “Children’s Corner”, which was arranged for 18 instrumental voices by Markus Syperek, primary school children experience the formation of a symphony orchestra in a very haptic way.

Recordings in an anechoic room

In order for musicians from all orchestral groups – strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and harp – to be able to perform together on the box, the instruments must first be recorded separately in the anechoic room of the TU Berlin. This was carried out in collaboration with TU Professor Stefan Weinzierl and his team (Audio Communication Department). This is an unusual environment for orchestral musicians. Where normally performing means listening as well as possible to the other musicians, here each performer is left to his or her own devices. In addition, absorbers on the walls of the room and the grid on the floor swallow the sound – all in all, these were highly artificial, unusual conditions for the musicians of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin.

Behind this project is the Konzerthaus Berlin’s concept of reaching as many people as possible in their respective realities. For this form of forward-looking educational work in the digital space, the Konzerthaus uses augmented and virtual reality elements, smartphone apps, VR glasses, streaming and games. This offers children and young people a low-threshold, playful introduction to the world of classical music.

The Orchestra Box will soon be used at primary schools and in the context of educational events both inside and outside the Konzerthaus Berlin, as well as in the Konzerthaus Plus app.

 

The project is funded by the European Union.

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Arrangement mit freundlicher Unterstützung von Zukunft Konzerthaus e.V.

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