Dániel Váczi shows the Glissotar to School of Music students

Students Touch the Future of Music
at Guthman Musical Instrument Competition

Students Touch the Future of Music
at Guthman Musical Instrument Competition

According to Georgia Tech president Angel Cabrera, if you were lucky enough to be in Guthman Musical Instrument Competition audience, you got a rare look at the future of music.

"In a few years, there's going to be a whole new way of making music based on some of the instruments that you saw today," Cabrera said, "and you will be able to say, 'I was there when it all happened.'"

For Georgia Tech's music technology majors, though, the Competition also represents the pinnacle event of their creative study and research.

Sean Levine, a dual Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Music Technology major, has been to every Guthman Competition since 2017 (when he was invited to visit as a senior in high school.) Since coming to Georgia Tech, he has developed an audio-visualizing speaker system, a spectrogram-focused educational app for iOS, and a speaker-tuning iOS application.

“My first Guthman Competition was the primary reason I chose to become a Yellow Jacket,” Levine said. "The competition is an inspiring display of state-of-the-art technologies and algorithms being used to facilitate creative outlets.”

Watch the Winning Performance

Dániel Váczi performs on his musical instrument invention, the Glissotar with Ted Gurch, the Associate Principal/E-flat Clarinetist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. As the two duet on Glissotars, notice how the magnetic strip mimics a stringed instrument, while still functioning as a woodwind instrument.

Where Music Technologists Come to Play

Chantelle Ko explains the GLOBE to School of Music students and judge Paola Antonelli
Chantelle Ko explains the GLOBE to School of Music students and Guthman Musical Instrument Competition judge Paola Antonelli.

"During the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, Georgia Tech music technology students get to see some of the most innovative musical instruments in the world, to meet their creators, to try out the instruments themselves, and to get feedback on their own work,” said Jason Freeman, Chair of the School of Music.

"The competition gives our students incredible hands-on opportunities to learn about the practice of music technology and about career paths in the field as they simultaneously build their professional networks."

The Guthman Musical Instrument Competition includes a day of instrument presentations before the final concert. Music technology students are invited to the presentations and are able to ask the competitors questions about the invention process during breaks. They even have the opportunity to play the instruments.

“Students learn about the design, engineering, musicianship, and entrepreneurship that it took to bring our finalists' visions to life," said Freeman.

Sometimes, as in Evan Murray's case, they even end up as colleagues in the music technology world. 

"I met the winner two years ago and found out that he had created the ElectroSpit with a tool called AudioKit," said Murray, also a dual BS/MS in Music Technology major. "That's something I'm actually familiar with, I contribute code to AudioKit."

"It was really cool to be a part of something like that," he said.

2022 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition Winners

Daniel Vaczi performs on the Glissotar at the 2022 Guthman Concert.

First Place


Xiao Xiao performs on the T-Voks at the 2022 Guthman Concert.

Second Place


Giacomo Lepri performs on the Chowndolo at the 2022 Guthman Concert.

Third Place


Spencer Topel and Sam Cape perform on the Cicada at the 2022 Guthman Concert.

Judge's Special Award


Daniel Vaczi performs on the Glissotar at the 2022 Guthman Concert.

People's Choice


Competition Judges Teach Exclusive Music Technology Lessons

Gerhardt Behels, Rick Beato, Paola Antonelli.

The judges also contribute to the students' experience of Guthman, Freeman said. "Students connect with the Guthman judges, who are thought leaders in the music industry, to learn from their experiences and understand their ideas about the future of the industry."

The 2022 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition judges were: Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator at The Museum of Modern Art in the Department of Architecture & Design, as well as MoMA’s founding Director of Research & Development; Rick Beato, American YouTube personality, music professional, and educator; and Gerhard Behles, CEO, co-founder, and chief visionary of Ableton.

Murray attended the Guthman Judges Panel event where all three judges answered questions from School of Music students and faculty. It was interesting, he said, "to gain some insight on how each of the judges developed their personal background and portfolio of their works."

Alison Ma, a second-year Master of Science in Music Technology student, enjoyed the opportunity attend a Q&A session for music technology students with judge Gerhard Behles. "It was inspiring because both he and the students were equally curious about new music technology to come."

Murray agreed. "Gerhard was a nice person who seemed happy to answer everyone's questions, and the session even went a bit overtime since he was willing to stay and answer more questions."

Human-centered Design Demonstrated at Guthman

Student presenting research with poster in background
Alison Ma exhibits her research project at the Guthman Music, Art, and Technology Fair

This year's Competition was the first for Ma. She presented her research at the Guthman Music, Art, and Technology Fair.

"Interacting with the inventors [at the Fair] motivated my work in music technology because I saw others with likeminded interests pursuing their own passions," said Ma, who is a member of the Music Informatics group in the Center for Music Technology.

Ma’s work processes massive sound libraries and optimizes their use. These libraries can consist of thousands of samples of sounds from howling wind, to footsteps, to pencil on paper. They exist so each new production doesn’t have to create every sound it needs from scratch. “Sound libraries are a vital part of today’s commercial audio post-production and game audio industry,” said Ma.

But as these libraries grow and change, they require more maintenance, “which reduces the usefulness of a sound library and takes time away from [the user’s] creative process.” Ma’s work aims to automate some of this updating, reducing cost and difficulty of use.

Ma said, “Working on my project has allowed me to explore my own interests as a sound designer as well as work towards my goal of contributing to this community I love.”

Music Technology Classwork Becomes Inspiration

Student exhibiting piano application to fair visitors
Evan Murray explains “Chord Candy” to visiting K-12 students

Murray saw an opportunity to help people learn chord progressions. His exhibit, a class group project, was an interactive web-based piano interface called "Chord Candy."

"We wanted to address the problem of helping train people on chord progressions in a dynamic way," said Murray. "Many websites will do that, but they always play the chords in a 'blocked' format without flow between the chords."

"Having a system which can come up with chord progressions can help in the music education process and help learners test what different chord inversions sound like."

More than just showcasing his work, the Guthman Fair offered Murray the chance to demonstrate it to kids from local schools. "It was rewarding to see the next generation of kids interested in this technology too."

"I'm a strong believer in having kids engage in STEM and music early on so they can have an impact on the community later."

For Levine, the Guthman Competition offers unique inspiration for new means of artistry.

Levine's fascination with music technology came from his history as musician. He has been playing guitar for over 14 years and has picked up multiple other instruments along the way. Music technology was a natural next step. “Multi-instrumentalism has been a key reason why I chose to go into music production and studio musicianship.”

"The Guthman Competition expands my knowledge on capabilities of performance and personal expression in ways that a [traditional] concert tends to fall flat.”


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