L2Ork (pronounced as lohrk) stands for Linux Laptop Orchestra, World’s first orchestra of its kind built on Linux. Building upon the foundation established by PLOrk andSLOrk, L2Ork was founded by Dr Ivica Ico Bukvic in May 2009, as part of Virginia TechMusic Department’s Digital Interactive Sound & Intermedia Studio (DISIS). At L2Ork we seek to explore new and exciting opportunities that arise from combining the quintessential form of collaboration with centuries of tradition found in the Western orchestra, with affordable and versatile contemporary technology, in this case laptops. Since laptops, unlike traditional instruments can take on many different roles, we believe that there is no single ultimate way to implement a laptop orchestra and we see this as its greatest potential. In its current form L2Ork relies mainly upon Pure-Data real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphics processing. We use Nintendo Wiimotes and Nunchuk as well as various built-in laptop input devices (e.g. keyboard, trackpad, webcam) as hyperinstruments, and external soundcard (UA-1G) in conjunction with custom-built hemispherical speakers and subs for audio output. The ensemble infrastructure currently supports up to 15 fully networked performers.

Performance featuring L2Ork and elements of Taiji (Tai Chi) choreography. Performed on June 1st 2011 at NIME conference in Oslo, Norway:

Some of the angles we are keen on exploring include:

  • furthering creative reserach in computer music: a laptop orchestra is a natural extension of computer music. As laptops have reached unprecedented affordability, now more than ever we are empowered to explore opportunities that may arise from coupling a traditional orchestra with contemporary technologies.
  • level playing field: in the World of L2Ork (or any other *Ork for that matter) every performer, regardless of their professional background is equally competent as a L2Orkist. Therefore a laptop orchestra can serve as a bridge across different disciplines, potentially spawning new and exciting collaborations, or serving as a foundation for new cross-disciplinary research trajectories.
  • reconciling STEM and Arts: a laptop orchestra seamlessly encompasses Arts and Sciences. This allows us to utilize such an ensemble in a number of educational scenarios.
  • networked ensemble: all instrumentalists know exactly what everyone else is doing. Likewise, depending upon a piece and/or use scenario, composers can design instruments that share specific content (e.g. how loud they are playing or what pitch they are playing) and furthermore use such content exchange to fundamentally alter how a laptop orchestra functions. In L2Ork, everyone could be both a conductor and a performer, or perhaps a piece would call for no conductors at all.
  • physical presence: we seek to utilize various controllers, motes, sensors, and other technologies that will allow us to maximize potential of theatre and choreography that is also a critical component of classical performance.
  • beyond sound: laptop orchestras by their very nature are not purely aural. While we certainly need to acknowledge the fact that a traditional performance is multisensory in its nature (performer’s posture, facial expression, attire, spatial organization on stage, etc.), and more importantly that we will actively seek to couple L2Ork with traditional performing forces (e.g. orchestra and/or soloists), we also wish to push the multisensory nature of a laptop as far as our imagination will allow us. Thus, we look forward to producing works that concurrently explore poetry, dance, theatre, visual arts, and many other creative domains.
  • community engagement: we seek to engage Linux user and developer communities through Linuxaudio.org and a growing network of partners.
Name Department College
Ivica Ico Bukvic Music College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Tom Martin Electrical and Computer Engineering College of Engineering
Eric Standley School of Visual Arts College of Architecture and Urban Studies
Charles Nichols School of Performing Arts College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Collaborative Colleges: 
Architecture & Urban Studies
Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Software (Linux Laptop Orchestra)