While studying at Cornell, Ray Li used an assignment from his introductory electronics class as the perfect excuse to combine his two biggest passions: music and technology.
Li and a classmate built the Aura, an instrument which combines elements of electronics, technology, and music to make sound. With no chords or notes to memorize, the musician has ultimate control. The Aura is a glove-based device which allows the player to “hold” and play music with his or her bare hands by making different movements and gestures.
Li, who was first featured on our list of 19 Incredibly Impressive Students At Cornell, graduated in January but continues working on campus on a new instrument called SoundSpace. It’s similar to the Aura only it will incorporate many different instruments which can be played by tapping on the body and other surfaces. Li plans to debut the project at a concert in May and then launch a company to make his instruments accessible to a wide range of musicians.
An Aura solo may not be the same kind of melodic performance as you might expect from a piano or a cello, but watching the player arch and dance his or her hands around the air as they create sound is absolutely mesmerising.
Here’s a video of Li playing the Aura at Cornell:
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