BOSTON (CBS) – Five musicians gather at Berklee College of Music. At first glance you see drum sticks, singers, a keyboard, and strings – but this is far from a traditional ensemble. They are all playing EDI, aka Electronic Digital Instruments.
Claire Marie Lim wrote the song for our demonstration titled “Chemistry.” She performs this song under her artist name dolltri!ck. Claire composes her music on a system she created herself with a laptop, software, and a square device with a whole lot of unlabeled buttons on it. Claire plays this controller with the ease of a classically trained pianist, but the notes are in no obvious order and the entire device can be reprogrammed to create a different of set of chords or sounds in an instant.
“It’s a lot to memorize,” Claire admitted.
Claire programs the sounds and notes on the laptop and the song is played out live. Vocals and notes can be played back on-demand in the middle of a live performance.
Controllers come in all shapes and sizes. Drummer Nico has a black square pad he bangs with his drum sticks. Maddy wears a keyboard that acts as her connection to the laptop. They are all creating a distinct sound with limitless possibilities.
Every student entering Berklee must declare a “principal instrument” and beginning next Fall, for the first time ever, EDI can be that instrument of choice.
“Berklee has a long history of being innovative, a long history of preparing students for current trends and careers in music,” said Sean Skeete, Berklee Chair of the Ensemble Department.
Rishabh Rajan is an Assistant Professor at Berklee and directed the ensemble that performed for WBZ. He told us he’s very excited about Berklee embracing EDI.
“A lot of folks that I know of who want to go to school, who want to learn more, but unfortunately, they don’t have the background of learning a traditional instrument. Now they have this opportunity to go to school and learn.”
“Berklee has always followed the mission of teaching musicianship through the music of our time,” added Michele Darling, Berklee’s Assistant Chair of Electronic Production and Design.
EDI’s perfect harmony of technology and music is well represented at this year’s Grammy Awards. You can hear it in Song of the Year nominees “All The Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and “The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey.
Darling explained that students, “want to learn how to make the music they are hearing out in the world, that they are seeing in the Grammys.”
You can watch the Grammys on WBZ-TV Sunday, February 10th, at 8pm.