Free Maestro app allows anyone to conduct an orchestra

Maestro_orchestra2Dream Theater’s keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess and his artistic technology company Wizdom Music have created Maestro, a free Windows 7 and 8 app which allows users to conduct an orchestra of animated characters. The program’s advanced camera technology and gesture recognition allow you to “conduct” through a webcam. If you don’t have a camera, you can also tap the beat on your mouse.

Maestro offers a selection of eight well-known classical works specially arranged by Eren Basbug including “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic, and the “Promenade” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  The number of musicians in your orchestra depends on what piece you’re playing, but you can choose from five different types of musicians and have them play instruments such as a flutah, morph, or hex key.

I’ve used Maestro with both the webcam and the mouse. It might just be my hardware, but the app is pretty unresponsive to my attempts to conduct through the camera. By contrast, the program is extremely sensitive when I use my mouse. The tempo indicator box at the left side of the screen shows how many beats per minute I’m conducting, and the orchestra speeds up and slows down accordingly. A flashing light beneath the characters shows you which one is playing. Changing the character and instrument is simple – just click on the guy you want to change, and a menu pops up with five different characters and instruments.

Maestro_orchestraThe only downside is that when I stop tapping the beat mid-song in order to change the instrument or character, the music slows down. And it’s also important to bear in mind that you’re conducting electronic instruments. There’s no mistaking their synthesized sound for an acoustic orchestra, but it is fun to hear traditional classical music played by instruments like a morph and a hex key.

Maestro is easy and fun to play around with. An adult or a child could easily while away the time creating different combinations of instrumental sounds and messing around with the tempo. The program does have its limitations, and it would be interesting to see if Rudess and Wizdom will develop a fancier paid version in the future.

To download Maestro, please click here.

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