musicPerformance Art

The Electronica Shows of the Future Will Be Choreographed

Imogen Heap and her musical glovesSometimes, there’s a post where I have to jump around my apartment for a bit to get rid of my excess excitement long enough to sit down and write about it. This is one of those.

Imogen Heap is a British artist known for creating dramatically produced electronica/rock/pop music (here’s one of her best-known tracks). Like many musicians who rely heavily on computers for their final products, she found that while her recordings benefitted from the power of programs like Ableton and Pro Tools, her onstage performance suffered — who wants to pay money to watch someone turn a dial or click a mouse? So, like anyone in her situation might do, she stopped by fucking MIT to see what they had for her. She was in luck.

Graduate student Ellie Jessop, who did work on Death and The Powers, a robot opera I posted about a few years ago (a post that has an eerily similar opening line…I’m onto you, Ellie), had recently created a glove that could create and alter sound with gestures and movements of the wearer’s hand. But don’t take my word for it. Let Ellie tell you all about it in this three-minute video:

Imogen Heap got a demonstration of this glove and clearly got even more excited that I just did. She hired a tech team to combine it with some other technology, not least of which was an X-box Kinect, and finally found a way to create her own electronic music in real time on the stage. She explains it all in this video (if you’re short on time and you’d just like to see the kind of music she can make with it, skip ahead to 13:20):

I wonder if someday this technology could be used to keep guitarists from kneeling down to play with pedal knobs at key points during their solos. Hmm.

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Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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