Electronic Baton Lets Anyone Be The Conductor Of A Virtual Symphony


The Mendelssohn Effektorium is an interactive installation that lets museum visitors control a virtual symphony with a special baton.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 5 may 2014

Not everyone can play a music instrument or lead a whole orchestra for that matter, but visitors at the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Museum in Leipzig, Germany have a chance to be a conductor and command a virtual orchestra to play music.

Developed and produced by design studio White Void, the Mendelssohn Effektorium is an interactive installation set up at the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Museum and it lets museum visitors experience what it is like to be at the helm of a virtual symphony by using a special conductor’s baton.

The installation doesn’t look anything like a real orchestra, but it does have 13 slim standing speakers representing different types of instruments, motion controllers, and a conductor’s stand with a 32-inch touchscreen.


The speakers correspond to a different type of instrument like woodwind, percussion, brass, vocals, among others. Each speaker has a vertical digital display that shows the type of instrument and lights up when it plays.

The touchscreen serves as the conductor’s music sheet and museum visitors select which musical piece they want to play. The museum visitors can choose which piece to play from among the works of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The symphony begins as soon as the conductor lifts the wooden baton and starts moving it as a real conductor would.


The visitor-turned-conductor can control which types of instruments are spotlighted and for how long, and how fast the tempo can be. A Leap Motion controller calculates the conductor’s movements with the baton and adjusts the tempo of the virtual symphony. The conductor can also choose to exclude certain instrument groups from the performance, as well as change instrumentation or tonality. The conductor can do all these changes through the touchscreen.

The installation also includes a MacMini that mixes the sounds in real time so everything the conductor selects and how he or she moves the baton translates right away to a unique interpretation of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s music piece.

The idea for the installation originated from the design studio’s cooperation with Bertron Schwarz Frey Studio, and White Void did the implementation.

Take a look at how the installation works in the video below.

[h/t] Wired


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