For The New Yorker, technologist Jaron Lanier delights in his large collection of musical instruments and the singular and ephemeral joy of music made in collaboration with others.

Today, I love to have musicians over to my house, where we can combine different instruments to see what happens. The joy that transpires when things go well is multilayered. There is the pleasure of connection with other people, and there is also the happiness of finding a new little corner of aesthetic interiority together. Music can conjure a new flow, a new pattern, a new flavor, between and inside people. And playing sufficiently obscure instruments forces a different approach to music. How can you be competitive about raw skill, or get into some other macho trap, when the task at hand is so esoteric? Who is to judge the winner in a contest that must invent itself over and over? When music made collaboratively with other musicians goes right, I feel a budding, rising warmth and comfort. Is this my mother smiling on me? Or maybe it’s me, smiling on her.