Cameron writes: "I've been working on a bit of DIY I think you'll find interesting; I built a little analog amp/feedback system and I'm using electrodes attached to my forearms to control the thing. The feedback path runs through my body and creates the oscillations you hear. It sounds a bit like a theremin but I would say it already has a broader sound palette, though keeping it under control can prove to be a challenge." My favourite line from the video: "Immediately, you will hear the sounds of my muscles." So. Is this BS, old science, or something new?
Posted by Tom Whitwell.
I go to school with Cameron and was in "Computers in Music Performance" with him this semester. I can vouch that this is definitely a real, albeit a not very predictable, musical instrument. Electrical Engineering ftw!
well, it depends on what you mean by new. using body sensors to control sound has an illustrious history (alvin lucier springs to mind), but the point is with all this stuff, is what he's doing new, even if its with old science? the 'is it new' question gets reductive very quickly if rigorously asked in terms of technology - 'oh well, ultimately its just a universal turing machine' - that sort of thing.
Sometime back, about 20 years ago or so, I assisted in the set design for the Toronto performance event by Stelarc, the Event for Laser Eyes and Third Arm, which also included his body-suit contraption called the Amplified Body -- you will have to follow that link to get any real sense of Stelarc's work, but I will say that he did this dude one better because in addition to wiring his muscles (and Doppler blood flow and heart-beat) to the synths, Stelarc also used medical gear like muscle stimulators to get some real wild 'inhuman' actions.
Of course, to do so, to be transhuman, was precisely his exo-body point ;) but what really impressed me from this show was how musical it was, and how well he could control all these body processes in order to cybernetically operate the sound (and light) machines. In the finale, even the house-lights were gated by his heartbeat. It was quite a show, Toronto was totally blown away.
In an interview at the after-show reception I heard him tell a reviewer how, after spending most of his working day in intimate contact with himself (um, er, there's not any really good way to say that ;) he was now able to control just about everything, his muscles, his heart rates, his blood flow, and he'd learned to play his body as the instrument.
Music that takes advantage of sending electricity to the muscles in bursts.
Sounds are generated by touching very sensitive filter circuits. The sounds control the lights and electric impulses sent back into the performer's muscles via electrodes and high voltage shocks. So the performer is both playing and being played by the instrument.
Well, i'm a doctor (yes, a MD), and it's certainly absolutely possible to control a synth with your muscles, given the fact that they hold a small electric charge (matter of milivolts only).
I'd say it's a rather poor attempt at making music. A more elaborate aproach would involve creating ranges of voltage that would trigger different notes.
An even more elaborate idea would be to create a suit, or a neoprene arm with more electrodes. I don't remember the exact number, but there are around twelve muscles in your arm, and you could set different voltages to each muscle.
That would be a controller faster than presing a key, actually.
Is it real? yes. Is it new? Not really, and I actually was inspired by that Daito video. Anyone with some circuit experience and the parts can build this, as I did, in a day and have it up and running. In response to the doctor, I'm working on the MIDI triggering already! I am doing that in software however, because (as you suggested), doing so in the analog realm would be an order of magnitude more elaborate and unpredictable.
rather that focusing on how this technique fails at translating to traditional music, I think that the possibilities of this method of control for other (non-trad musical) realms of expression are unlimited. Imagine interpretive dancers wearing these, and triggering not only musical cues but lighting, videos, etc. Or pop-n-lock street performers with them triggering robot sounds, six-million dollar man boing sounds when you jump...etc. Basically any sound kit you could come up with. I'm inspired, cool stuff!