A photo of hands playing a futuristic lucite instrument with the words "The Future of Music" graphically placed on top.

The 2020 Guthman Competition Finals
will take place on
Saturday, March 7th at 7:00 pm
at Georgia Tech's Ferst Center for the Arts.

How The Competition Works

The competition stretches out much longer than most of the public gets to see. Every year, the Guthman Competition Committee, made up of Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology faculty, sort through dozens of entries sent in from around the world. They pare it down to 10-12 finalists, who are invited to come to campus for the Competition.

The competition lasts for two days. During this time, the finalists describe and demonstrate their instrument in TED-talk style as the judges and fellow competitors watch.

The finalists then perform on stage in front of the public. Each finalist has five minutes to perform. The judges then choose a $5000 grand prize winner, a $3000 second prize winner, and a $2000 third prize winner.

2020 Judges

  • Rebecca Fiebrink - Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Jordan Rudess - Composer, Keyboardist, and Member of Progressive Metal Band Dream Theater
  • Dave Smith - Engineer, Musician, and Founder of Synthesizer Company Sequential

Previous judges include artists such as Pat Metheny, Laurie Anderson, Richard Devine, Daedelus, and Young Guru; academic leaders such as David Wessel, Elaine Chew, and Tod Machover; and Music Technology industry leaders such as David Zicarelli, Eran Egozy, Mike Adams, and Tom Oberheim.

Classic Music Styles Played By New Instruments

Genres that show up at the Guthman are as varied as the instruments themselves. The most popular and common song styles that can be heard are electronica, folk music, and traditional music from the countries the creators come from. Only one thing remains the same every year: we always walk away impressed and amazed with what is possible with the new instruments that we see come through the door.

At the event itself, you will experience a widened point of view of what music is, how it can be made, and what it will be in the years to come. These new instruments that come to the competition show new ways to make classic music, modern music, and music that hasn’t even been thought of yet.

Our History

Georgia Tech's Margaret Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition is an annual event aimed at identifying the world's next generation of musical instruments. Every year the competition serves as a showcase for unveiling the best new ideas in musicality, design, and engineering.

This is the 21st year of the Guthman competition: for 11 years it was a piano competition and ten years as the new musical instrument competition that it is now. The first Guthman Competition began with eight high school students and one single piano in the Black Box theater. This year, the Guthman competition will be hosting 14 inventors from all over the world.

Wired magazine called the competition an "X-Prize for music," and contestants liken it to a TED Conference for new musical instrument designers. Some of our previous finalists include the OP-1, Roli Seaboard, Guitarbot and many other groundbreaking musical instruments which have since become successful commercially and artistically.

The competition has received wide publicity from media outlets such as The New York TimesFast CompanyThe TODAY Show among others.


Watch last year's Competition!