Virginia Tech professor’s software helps quarantined musicians jam together

Linux Laptop Orchestra Tweeter, which was partially inspired by Twitter, allows musicians to produce music together while they remain physically distant during the pandemic.
Linux Laptop Orchestra
(Virginia Tech)

Music-making software developed by a Virginia Tech professor has helped unite musicians during the pandemic, the university announced last week.

The free open-source program, called Linux Laptop Orchestra Tweeter, was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help facilitate online instruction for music students. It allows anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection, even a slow one, to produce music and collaborate with other musicians while staying in sync with each other.

“Music can serve as an essential catalyst in connecting people and have a profound impact on our well-being. This is particularly true during these trying times,” Ivica Ico Bukvic, the program’s developer and a Virginia Tech school of performing arts professor, said in a press release. “The software connects people and provides a platform to express oneself in front of an audience.”

The software uses a frequency modulation algorithm, which allows the program to generate a variety of musical sounds that musicians can use instead of physical instruments. Each user in a session is given an instrument and a “tracker” that can be populated with up to 64 notes.


“This intentional constraint requires users to build complexity through interaction with other users,” according to the project’s website. “It is in part inspired by the popular social media platform Twitter that imposes a similar design constraint of allowing only up to 280 characters per Tweet. As a result, and as evidenced by its name, L2Ork Tweeter can be seen as a musical counterpart to Twitter.”

The program supports up to 10 performers at a time and as many audience members as bandwidth allows. As a result, Tweeter can serve as a tool for jamming, improvisation, composition, rehearsal or even online performances before live audiences.­

“Orchestras are as tightly coordinated as a football team and feature the same kind of camaraderie. At the same time, not all of us are great at being quarterbacks. We’re great at doing other things. This is one of those other things,” Bukvic said. “Using Tweeter, aspiring musicians and professionals alike from all over the world can make incredible music together.”

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

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