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The story behind the Blob Opera world tour

There was an added bonus to all that time in the studio. “The singers really enjoyed using their voices in a different way — I remember our soprano, Olivia, was excited to see how young people would use this.” “Until I saw the Blobs, I couldn’t quite understand it — but when I finally saw it,…

There was an added bonus to all that time in the studio. “The singers really enjoyed using their voices in a different way — I remember our soprano, Olivia, was excited to see how young people would use this.” 

“Until I saw the Blobs, I couldn’t quite understand it — but when I finally saw it, I loved it!” says Olivia ( whose fiance was the tenor). “The sheet music we received was basically parts of an opera, but all written on one note,” she explains. “So we sang those pieces as one note, in a range of pitches, for hours.” Olivia says that while it could be tricky, she thoroughly enjoyed the process — especially since she’d hardly been able to sing live all year. 

Pamela hardly minded logging hours in the studio with them. “It made me realize how much I miss live music!” 

Fittingly, Blob Opera’s return (which comes with a new look and new features) had its own performance moment on stage with Tune-Yards at Google I/O 2021. Pamela and Laurent mentioned that Tune-Yards’ lead vocalist Merrill Garbus’s voice was a perfect fit for the Blobs’ operatic sounds and that it was incredible to see a real artist working with the blobs as colleagues. 

While the Blob Opera will be a part of the Tune-Yards live performance at I/O, they’ll also be available online, where anyone can interact with it. The interactive Blobs, which have new, colorful styles, can also leave their digital opera house and go on tour to places like Cape Town, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris or Seoul. Each location comes with its own set of traditional, local songs – like “Frére Jacques” or La Bamba. David calls the custom version of Blob Opera, used to create the show, a “massively optimized version.” “We used the new WebAssembly SIMD feature so 16 blobs could all move and sing at the same time,” he says. “It was great to get to push web browsers in this way.”

Laurent says it was a joy to bring the Blobs back in this new way, and both he and Pamela describe the process as one of the smoothest collaborations they’ve worked on. Of course, it’s had something of an effect on them as well. “I have to say, what I’ve found really funny,” Pamela says, “…is that I’m literally eating, sleeping, breathing Tune-Yards and opera songs these days!” 

To learn more about this or other musical experiments — such as AR Synth or Assisted Melody – visit the Google Arts & Culture experiments website or get our free app for Android or iOS to discover more about performing arts.

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