Instrumented Bodies: Digital Prostheses for Music and Dance

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The Spine

Spine Sketches

The Spine is a “prosthetic” digital musical instrument developed for the collaborative project Les Gestes, in which we endeavoured to design new instruments for dancers.  The new instruments would extrapolate from the T-Stick, which we had already used in the performance Duo pour un violoncelle et un danseur with the same collaborators. Starting with foam prototypes, the Spine and its companion instruments the Rib and the Visor were developed iteratively using participatory design through frequent workshops, parallel problem solving, and digital fabrication methods. The current models are fabricated from laser-cut transparent acrylic, transparent PVC tubing, and PETg rods. The entire structure is assembled using interference fitting rather than any glues or fasteners.

The Spine tracks and reports it’s orientation and shape in real-time, accomplished through the use of inertial and magnetic-field sensing at each end of the structure. Sensor-fusion algorithms run on-board the instrument.

I have previously blogged some teaser photos and a couple of videos showing a demonstration of the orientation and deformation sensing I developed for the Spine and a promo for the upcoming shows.

Video: Les Gestes (en creation)

Here’s a promo video for the project Les Gestes, posted by our collaborators Van Grimde Corps Secrets. The prosthetic digital instruments worn by the dancers were conceived and developed by myself and my colleague Ian Hattwick in the IDMIL.

The project is still underway, but the touring schedule has been established:

  • Montréal (Canada) – March 13-16, 2013, Agora de la danse, in partnership with live@CIRMMT
  • Lennoxville (Canada) – March 19, 2013, Théâtre Centennial
  • Arnhem (The Netherlands) – April 10, 2013, Schouwburg
  • Blanc Mesnil (Paris, France) – April 13, 2013, Forum du Blanc Mesnil
  • Bruges (Belgium) – April 18, 2013, Concertgebouw

CMJ special issue on Mapping

Call for Submissions – CMJ Special Issue: “Advances in the Design of Mapping for Computer Music”, Marcelo M. Wanderley and Joseph Malloch, Guest Editors.

When we use digital tools for making music, the properties and parameters of both sound synthesizers and human interfaces have an abstract representation. One consequence of the digital nature of these signals and states is that gesture and action are completely separable from sound production, and must be artificially associated by the system designer in a process commonly called mapping.

The importance of mapping in digital musical instruments has been studied since the early 1990s, with several works discussing the role of mapping and many related concepts. Since roughly the mid-2000s, several tools have been proposed to facilitate the implementation of mappings, drastically reducing the necessary technical knowledge and allowing a large community to easily implement their ideas. Coupled with the availability of inexpensive sensors and hardware, as well as the emergence of a strong Do-It-Yourself community, the time seems right to discuss the main directions for research on mapping in digital musical instruments and interactive systems.

This call for submissions for a special issue of the Computer Music Journal focuses on recent developments and future prospects of mapping.

Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Mapping in instrument/installation/interaction design
  • Mapping concepts and approaches
  • Mapping tools
  • Evaluation methodologies
  • Mapping in/as composition
  • Mapping for media other than, or in addition to, sound

Deadline for paper submission is March 15, 2013. The issue will appear in 2014. Submissions should follow all CMJ author guidelines (http://www.mitpressjournals.org/page/sub/comj). Submissions and queries should be addressed to marcelo.wanderley@mcgill.ca, with the subject starting with [CMJ Mapping]

New Digital Musical Instruments: Control and Interaction Beyond the Keyboard

New Digital Musical Instruments Control and Interaction Beyond the KeyboardAn excellent textbook co-authored by my PhD advisor Marcelo Wanderley which documents developments in the field of new digital musical instruments (/gestural controllers/new interfaces for musical expression) while placing them within the historical context of the field.

Authors: Eduardo Reck Miranda (University of Plymouth) and Marcelo M. Wanderley (McGill University)

Who should read it: musicians, instrument designers, music technology researchers.

Where to find it: From the Publisher or at Amazon.com.