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Classical 101

Cellist Wards off Attackers in "Cello Fortress" Video Game

Above: watch a game of Cello Fortress improvised by a solo cellist and his audience of "attackers." To a classical musician a performance can sometimes have the feel of battle. You go out on stage armed with technique and artistry, and you play, hoping a good performance will hold bad word of mouth from the audience in check. Now, a new video game turns the "battle" of performance into an interactive musical concert. In Cello Fortress, designed by developer and cellist Joost van Dongen, a lone cellist improvises music to defend his or her fortress from an "attacking" audience. The video above shows how it works: up to four members of the audience control the attacking tanks, and - on a real, not plastic, cello - the cellist plays high notes to shoot guns, "ugly chords" to activate an arsenal of flamethrowers and low notes to set off land mines. Here's a bit more detail about how Cello Fortress works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc2VapNISNk Van Dongen emphasized in a post on his blog that the game gives cellists opportunities to control game tactics and musical results at the same time. "I can play the melody faster or slower to make the attack happen earlier or later," wrote Van Dongen. "From a gameplay perspective, one would assume I always attack as quickly as possible, but my goal is actually not purely to win: I want to entertain the players and the audience. So I sometimes deliberately let them live to give them a more fun experience. This can be seen around 1:33 in the trailer: I make the final note very long to allow that player to escape." Given that musical improvisation is the centerpiece of Cello Fortress, no two performances of the game are alike. And the interactive dimension of the game allows audience members to go beyond being spectators to becoming part of the performance. For the last year, Van Dongen has taken Cello Fortress on tour, giving live performance-gaming experiences at gaming parties and cello festivals in the Netherlands, Belgium and Britain. Read more: Cello Controls Flamethrowers in New Video Game (ClassicFM)