Tech Hosts World’s Best in Music Innovation

2012 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition to be Webcast Live

Georgia Tech announced that the finale of the 2012 Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition will be webcast live at on Friday, February 17, 7:00 – 8:30 pm. No log-on is required, and the site will feature live chat and segments from preliminary performances.

The 2012 Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition is being held at Georgia Tech on February 16-17. Twenty three entrants from nine countries are competing.

The event is a hotbed for musicians and artists who are pushing the boundaries of music performance. has called it the “X-Prize for music,” and contestants have likened it to a TED Conference for new musical instrument designers.

Twenty-three inventors, composers and designers from nine countries were selected to compete from more than 50 entries.  For a taste of the kinds of instruments that will be presented in the competition, here are four examples from this year’s entrant pool:

  • Resistor JelTone, a partially edible toy piano by Brooklyn-based hacker collective NYC Resistor;
  • Audio Cube, a set of smart light-emitting blocks for music creation designed by Bert Schiettecatte of Belgium (with competition performance by Colorado-based electronic musician Mark Mosher);
  • Hyperkeys, a keyboard with keys that move in and out as well as up and down, by Jeff Tripp; and
  • Audio Skin, incorporating on-body textiles in a sculptural and performative musical instrument, by Vienna, Austria-based Martin Rille.

Finals will be held Friday, February 17, in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building at 266 Ferst Drive. The event is free and open to the public with advance RSVP online at

“We want the competition to be the place to see, experience and engage the future of music,” said Gil Weinberg, director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. “It’s also a platform for bringing like-minded inventors and composers together from all over the world to have their ideas judged by a preeminent panel of independent experts.”

Instruments will be judged on musicality, design and engineering by an expert panel including Atau Tanaka, media artist and researcher, and Cyril Lance, chief engineer at electronic musical instrument manufacturer Moog Music.

 “While paradigm shifts that accompany new technologies create frontiers that redefine the artistic process, musical traditions are useful points of departure that help us to question assumptions, extend practice and push the envelope of what is musically possible with technology,” Tanaka stated. “There is a disruptive power in questioning traditional musical roles of authorship and performance. Through this questioning, the basic tenets of musical instrumentality come to light.”

In total, $10,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the most exciting novel musical instruments.  The prizes will be and presented by Tech alumnus Richard Guthman in honor of his musician wife, Margaret.

Past competitions have hosted a broad range of inventions, including last year’s winner, MO, by Interlude Consortium, the software that explores novel gestural interfaces for musical expression with everyday objects; and second prize winner MindBox Media Slot Machine by German group Humatic Berlin, a vintage slot machine with an unexpected modern twist on the age-old tradition of canon composition.

About the Georgia Tech School of Music and the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology

Combining transdisciplinary research and technology with the art and tradition of music, the Georgia Tech School of Music and the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology offer mind-expanding performances and exhibitions; a leading graduate degree program in music technology; and a collaborative framework for students, researchers, government agencies and industry partners to transform the way we listen to, create and perform music.