Cell phones can be a lot of things: functional, annoying, distracting — but musical? Innovative members of the Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble (MoPho) certainly think so.

Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble

Friday at 8 p.m.
McIntosh Theater

Formed by Professor George Essl last fall as an interdisciplinary course in performing arts technology and electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), the organization uses cell phones to create music. According to its website, MoPho does not play ringtones or music from their handheld devices, but “creates new interactive sounds.”

For uniformity and appearance, the group performs with latest models of the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Members combine performance and composition with engineering techniques like programming and sound synthesis. All pieces are composed, arranged and performed by Essl’s students.

The exploration of mobile phone music first surfaced in Europe and then spread to the United States. MoPho has sibling ensembles in Helsinki and Berlin, as well as at Stanford University.

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