In the fall of 1978, Tod Machover arrived at IRCAM in Paris, and was introduced to Giuseppe di Giugno's digital synthesizer 4 series. Light was premiered at the Metz Festival in November 1979 using 4C, the brain-child of di Giugno's concept that "synthesizers should be made for musicians, not for the people that make them." (Electric Sound, p. 181). In 1981 he composed Fusione Fugace for solo performance on a real-time digital synthesizer, called the 4X machine. At IRCAM 1986 and 1987 he was motivated to score for keyboard and percussion duet with emphasis on extending their performance into many complex sound layers. He composed Valis, again using di Giugno’s 4X system to process voices. This desire to enhance the human performance foreshadowed his concept of the hyperinstrument (term coined in 1986). At MIT's Media Lab, he developed methods for taking many more sophisticated measurements of the instrument as well as the performer’s expression. He focused on augmenting keyboard instruments, percussion, strings, even the act of conducting, with the goal of developing and implementing new technology in order to expand the function of the musical instruments and their performers. He propelled forward-thinking research in the field of musical performance and interaction using new musical and technological resources. Originally concentrated to the enhancement of virtuosic performance, research has expanded in a direction of building sophisticated interactive musical instruments for non-professional musicians, children, and the general public.
Basically an electric violin, audio output provides raw material for real-time timbre analysis and synthesis techniques. Coupled with an enhanced bow (see Hyperbow), measured properties of both the audio output of the instrument and the bowing gesture of the player create data which controls aspects of the resulting amplified sound.
Bowing parameters (speed, force, position) are measured and data is processed to create an interaction between performance properties and audio output. Different types or styles of bowing create complex calculations which are conducive to the performance and manipulation of larger structures and compositional shapes.
Brain Opera (1996), an original, interactive musical experience that included contributions from both on-line participants and live audiences. It toured Europe, Asia, the United States and South America from 1996 to 1998 and was permanently installed at Vienna's House of Music in the spring of 2000.