Interview Excerpt #10
FRANK J. OTERI: I was reading about you on the Lego website. How did you get into Lego?
NATASHA SINHA: I’ve always wanted to create things and I’ve been very interested in making things move on their own so you don’t have to do it. And so I decided to use something called an RCX. It’s sort of like a mini-computer. And it downloads things that you type on the computer. And what that does it transforms it into like something the robot can read as ones and zeros. And that allows the robot to do whatever it’s told to do. And you can easily have many programs on there. Now, coming back to Share the Music, suppose you wanted to have something be played, but you couldn’t go over and press the buttons. You could have a robot crawl over or be programmed so that for a few seconds it goes one way and then it turns around. And then it could have an arm extending and it would press exactly at that one place. And it would know that it was playing and then the person could make it program another program so that it would come back and come right next to them so they could do something else with it.
FRANK J. OTERI: The thing that’s interesting about Lego is it’s all these small building blocks that you build larger structures with. Do you feel there’s a connection between Lego and music?
NATASHA SINHA: Actually I do because I’ve noticed more and more people have started to use crickets which are these little chips and that have batteries in them and they make clicks. And those clicks people have been researching about and I know there’s this one man at MIT. He’s using those crickets to make a vest that has music all over it made out of Legos. So you would like press something and it starts singing a tune.
FRANK J. OTERI: I went over to MIT to meet with Tod Machover for an issue of NewMusicBox and he showed me this denim jacket. It has little patches and you can play scales on it… It’s wacky stuff. Are you interested in creating music like this with machines…?
NATASHA SINHA: Yes, but right now I’m just focusing on inventing the things. And then later when I need music and obviously I love music, but right now I haven’t been doing that yet. So right now I’m just building things. But I would love to obviously put music in.
FRANK J. OTERI: But there’s also a connection between music and Lego on another level. I’m thinking about the first movement of your oboe and piano piece, Rustic Suite, which has these little motives that go here and there. In a sense, motives are the musical equivalent of Lego building blocks. You make larger structures from tiny pieces. With music if you listen to it or look at it on the printed page you can see all these little units that are the building blocks that created this larger thing.
NATASHA SINHA: Yeah.
FRANK J. OTERI: So do you feel like working with Lego has influenced you as a composer?
NATASHA SINHA: I actually think so because as you said, I think that the notes are like the little pieces of Lego. And sometimes I just like to freely write music. I don’t actually write it down. I just start playing. And sometimes I just think of something I’ve made. Like one time I wrote a little mechanical music. And it went ta-ta-ta-ta…As though something was going like this. And that obviously started the melody for this little thing I started to write. And from there, as you said, those are the building blocks and then I made it into a little bit bigger piece and made it a little bigger until finally I got it.