Virginia Tech professor awarded musical Guggenheim fellowship to combine computers, instruments

>July 2, 2018

Virginia Tech professor awarded musical Guggenheim fellowship to combine computers, instruments

Virginia Tech professor awarded musical Guggenheim fellowship to combine computers, instruments

Virginia Tech professor awarded musical Guggenheim fellowship to combine computers, instruments

BLACKSBURG — Eric Lyon makes music that surrounds you.

A Virginia Tech professor of creative technologies in music, Lyon is a leading creator of spatial music at the school. His primary instrument is the Cube, a $15 million facility in which Tech researchers use screens and speakers to explore augmented reality, data and immersive art.

He’ll be using the vast speaker arrays, plus acoustic instruments, to make new and innovative music thanks to a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the coming year.

Lyon will be on research leave for the 2018-19 academic year, focused on creating musical pieces in the Cube, a black box theater at the Moss Arts Center. He received a grant of about $55,000 from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to make four pieces of music.

His research, like all Guggenheim research, poses a question.

“How do you compose music for a high density speaker array that combines acoustic and computerized sounds?” Lyon said is the question he has tasked himself with answering.

The Guggenheim Fellowship is highly competitive. About 3,000 people, mostly academics, applied for it and only 175 received the honor. Of those 175, about a dozen were involved in music composition like Lyon.

“You apply, then you cross your fingers,” Lyon said.

Lyon is the seventh Tech professor to be awarded the honor and the first for music composition.

He said it’s the third or fourth time he’s applied for a Guggenheim. He learned in February that he’d receive it, but wasn’t allowed to say anything about it publicly until April, which was “really a challenge,” he said.

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