Last night over 500,000 Facebook fans gathered around their screens to watch British singer-songwriter Imogen Heap perform a 90 minute live performance of her her “Heapsong 6″ called “Me, The Machine.” To coincide with Earth Day, Imogen enlisted 25 cyclists to power the lights for the show along with a field full of solar panels. The performance showcased once again the musical gloves, which Imogen first debuted at the TEDGlobal Conference in Edinburgh in July.
What’s so special about them? Imogen’s gloves act as an interface whereby she can control a live musical production system entirely with hand gestures. Developed by a team of professors and scientists led by Dr. Thomas Mitchell, a lecturer and researcher at the University of the West of England, the gloves allow the singer-songwriter to record, synthesize, manipulate, and build up tracks for the audience using a flexible, intuitive set of hand movements. She can also amplify acoustic instruments via mics embedded in the gloves – all wirelessly! Back in July, Dr. Mitchell detailed “the gestural music system,” which we’re glad to see back in action:
It takes improvisation to a new level and frees the artist from interactions with electronic equipment on stage. Imogen’s performance will not make use of any pre-recorded material…For example by making a grasping motion she can ‘catch’ the sound of her voice or any other instrument, she can then filter these sounds by clasping her hands together and then ‘release’ the sound again by opening her hands. She can build layers of music, point and play invisible synthesisers and drums.