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Music Technology

Glove Emulates Musical Instruments 82

Zothecula writes "Bridging the gap between computer generated music and real-world instruments, the 'Imaginary Marching Band' is a fledgling, open-source project that allows music to be created by imitating the actions of playing the real thing on a sensor-equipped glove. The work of Scott Peterman, a Masters student at Parsons New School Of Design in New York City, the prototype system uses MIDI data output from the gloves via USB to reproduce the full range of notes from instruments such as the trumpet and trombone."
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Glove Emulates Musical Instruments

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  • Win! This is even better from the Air Guitar Shirt on ThinkGeek ;)

  • Young children will love this.
    Parents will hate this.

    So now you know what to get for your evil twin sisters kids for Christmas. This has the potential to be even worse than giving them a chemistry, carpentry, or woodburning kit.

    • Parents will hate it? Please explain.
      • I don't understand that comment either. Parents sometimes regret buying instruments because of the noise, but real drums don't have volume knobs or headphone jacks. Plus, they're more expensive.
      • Parents will hate it? Please explain.

        1. Kids will love it because it's NOISY. I guess you've never had kids play "cymbals" with the pot lids, or "drums" with the pots and wooden spoons.

        2. Parents will hate it because it's NOISY, and when they turn it off, the kids will be equally noisy whining that they want to play with their game.

        The only thing missing is a "pull my finger" fart-noise generator.

    • Aye, just wait until the kids discover how to set them for bongo, and then start slapping each other silly. It's slapstick comedy potential at its finest.

      • by jeyk ( 570728 )
        In the video from TFA, the creator mentions that they can already do snare drums and cymbals, which also has a lot of slapstick potential.
    • Actually, parents will love this. You can control the volume on this thing. A real trumpet is LOUD, and the learning curve is very slow on making a good sound, so your kid will play a lot of rusty notes for that first year.
  • Bands have been doing this for decades

  • When you could use the Kinect?
    • I don't think the Kinect even approaches the resolution required to pick up the finger movement used to play musical instruments.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    By definition, any digital sampling is incapable of producing "the full range of notes from instruments such as the trumpet and trombone". Especially for the trombone.
    And it's not possible to imitate the actions of many musical instruments, as the tactile feedback is 100% integrated into the production of the sound. For example, it's virtually impossible to do a 'drumroll' without the rebound action of the sticks off the drumhead.

    When this guy can demonstrate his glove playing a live, 100% perfect rendition

    • I am putting my karma at risk here, but you sound awfull like:
      "CDs can't reproduce full fidelity of vinyl"

      Although I somewhat agree that this glove won't have enough resolution to be perfect,
      theoretically it is possible to create such one that would.

      • GP reminds me of an interview I heard in the 80's with a synthesizer player.. I think it was Richard Wright from Pink Floyd. The interviewer made some comment about synthesizers being artificial and not legitimate instruments, and the keyboardist said something like "Why don't I give you the instruments and you make the music?"

        Look at keyboards now.. They're practically indistinguishable from some the instruments they emulate. Anyway, it's about the music. I don't care how the sound is produced if it sou
        • Re:Uhh, no (Score:4, Insightful)

          by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:37AM (#36107672)
          You and GP both sound like people who have never studied music seriously (hours a day), while GGP likely has. The level of tactile and other feedback from physical instruments affects performer behavior in ways you can't possibly imagine. The responsiveness of a reed on a mouthpiece, the delicate subtlety of hammer action on a piano while one tries to play legato chords with the pedal which changes the weight of the keys due to the dampers being lifted, the vibration of the low brasses and woodwinds which have an almost massaging effect on the player's facial muscles are all examples I've personally experienced. You may not care, but a musician knows that a digital piano is NOT a digital equivalent of a piano. It is a slightly different instrument which is not an acoustic piano. That doesn't mean it's not a great thing (I love having a digital to play on), but it is not, and will never be an acoustic instrument, and will not produce the same output. That you don't care for some value of "close enough" is a testament to the engineering, not proof of the perfect equivalence of the two.
          • Real instruments will still exist for people who are serious about playing them, they'll never go away.

            This is basically just a toy, a way to 'try out' a bunch of different instruments without the capital outlay of having to buy them all.

          • I own 5 guitars, a digital piano, and an old upright piano. I'm not saying this could ever replace real instruments, but it could be a cheap alternative for people that aren't that particular about the mechanics. I play the digital piano more than the acoustic, because the strings are too old to stay in tune, and it really wouldn't be worth it to replace them. I'll always rather play a quality real instrument.
            Don't conclude that I'm not an experienced musician because I can understand that there are peo
            • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
              My bad, I thought you were saying it was a replacement. I agree with you that digital stuff is an excellent substitute for many, or even most, situations.
              • yeah, definitely not a replacement.. I probably didn't convey that well. I do think there's something about real instruments that can't be quantified.
          • by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

            This is one of the best slashdot posts I have read in a long time.

        • Look at keyboards now.. They're practically indistinguishable from some the instruments they emulate.

          That is pretty false. I've heard some pretty expensive keyboards as well as digital/electronic organs (the pipe-organ-reproducing kind). They are quite good, and perhaps when recorded, hard to distinguish. When played in a live room, it's a lot different. Even with great speakers, an acoustic piano sounds different. Better? Worse? Well, that's an aesthetic, and I'm not arguing about that. If you like keyboards better, that's totally fine with me. :)

          I think something like this could be good for parents that can't/don't want to spend the money on a real trumpet that their kid is going to give up on after a month. If the kid shows some proficiency with it and still wants a real trumpet after a while, then get a real one.

          You can get a student trumpet for ~$150 (super chea

          • Revision: last I saw, I think you could get the Chinese made super cheap trumpet for like $70 on ebay.
          • Actually I was thinking about recorded instruments when I said that.. I don't know if a live piano could ever be simulated. You have long strings inducing vibration in other strings, the soundboard, and other parts of the piano. Maybe this could all be digitally modeled someday. When you play the upper register on a digital piano, it does simulate the resonance of the surrounding notes since they don't have dampers on a real piano. It's pretty rudimentary though, at least on mine. (cheap)

            I didn't real
            • Hum. Yes, digital recordings of a piano ... it's hard to distinguish a keyboard from a piano, but I'm not sure if that's just the way it's recorded or what. If comparing digital recordings to digital instruments then yeah, it's almost the same medium to begin with I guess :) Your explanation of the string vibration thing is one of the reasons I would think it would be quite difficult to realistically digitally model...

              Yeah, you can get pretty cheap trumpets. Poor quality? Yes.... but you can still lear

          • And it requires speakers.

            That would be an advantage in some cases (e.g. practicing in a non-soundproof room in an apartment building). Finally, a brass instrument that can be played quietly if so desired.

            • Hehe, touche... on the other hand, it's possible to play quietly. But who wants "quiet" nowadays besides the old boring classical music types ;) (that would be me.)
      • by maxume ( 22995 )

        I think the point is more that if you want to simulate a trombone slide, the most likely way to succeed is to build a trombone slide.

  • Watch out! The Glove is really a weapon of the Blue Meanies.
  • I think Steve Hogarth used something like that

    • Yup, he did. Made by Kenton Electronics in London - I remember reading about them when I was still at school in the 1980's.
  • Do you wear sensors on your mouth for the trumpet and trombone to change buzz frequencies so that you can play more than like 7 notes?
    • It looks like it has an air pressure sensor, which would allow one to adjust volume but not pitch. I can't look at the video now, so I can't say whether this is how they interpreted the data or if they erroneously use air pressure to adjust pitch as can be done with recorders (but not brass instruments).
  • by senorpoco ( 1396603 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:04AM (#36107154)
    There used to be a system whereby instead of blowing into a plastic tube you blew into a coiled brass or chromed tube which was flared at one end and instead of glove sensors you pressed on metal valves to change the note being played. It was quite ingenious but I can't for the life of me remember the name of the dang thing.
    • by khr ( 708262 )

      I think modern technology trumps anything as barbaric as what you're describing!

      • by Speare ( 84249 )

        I think modern technology trumps anything as barbaric as what you're describing!

        I see what you did there.

  • So this is really like an extremely complicated, barely functional synthesizer?
    • by jeyk ( 570728 )
      Basically, yes.
    • Actually the synthesizer is often a separate device from the controller, which is typically a keyboard or sequencer or sometimes something more novel like a specially equipped guitar.

      So, they've got a new controller but the sounds are probably the same as any other synthetic instrument. I don't know what the point of this exercise is besides obvious self indulgence. The keyboard is the standard synth input because it is not only versatile for the virtuoso types, but anyone can sit down at one and make music

    • by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

      The synth can be in your computer. It can be anything you want: Sampled piano, sampled drums, or synth sounds. Then there are the effects that you can apply.

      The glove is just the interface. You can use the device to create your own instrument! You won't be limited by pads, a midi keyboard, or your computer keyboard.

  • This one time, at imaginary band camp...

  • 'nuff said
  • Guy plays piano with his mind: http://www.gizmag.com/music-with-the-mind-brain-computer-music-interface/18489/ [gizmag.com]

    I would imagine that the lag between thought/intention and detection by the EEG device and would be too high but he plays some really complex and dynamic tunes.

    PS. Technically even when you use your fingers, you're at the bottom of it still playing with your mind. :-)

    • That looks impressive, but I think they're not telling the whole story. I think there are different pre-recorded passages, and the guy is just switching between them, or playing the next passage in a sequence.
      • Yeah on second watching I realized it's true, they even say something to that extent. Knew it was too good to be true. :-( Still it's probably satisfying for the person doing it.

  • best skin flute ever.
  • Although the musical artists frequently take a beating from new technology this is a tool that might come to be important for brass and woodwind people.
    Also if someone would just build a valve cluster that is electronic and will show the score, the note being played and ask the user to quickly find the correct fingerings it would be a boon for trumpet, French horn, valve trombone. Sousaphone, Tubas and more. A

    • Also if someone would just build a valve cluster that is electronic and will show the score, the note being played and ask the user to quickly find the correct fingerings it would be a boon for trumpet, French horn, valve trombone. Sousaphone, Tubas and more.

      I used to do that, and still do when practicing. You sit there with your instrument and look at your music and go through it, in time, just as if you were playing, ecept you don't actually play it. You finger the valves harder than normal.

      A three valve and four valve cluster could be made so that if the players real instrument is a three valve the fourth valve could simply be turned off. The idea is to get a metronome like response with the fingerings landing at the right moment.

      That last bit may be somewhat novel, at any rate. Until the conductor changes pace :)

      This would allow extending practice time in which no noise is made and also getting concentration on timing and correct fingerings. This could be a fairly inexpensive product that would aid millions of players.

      That's already possible though. And if they already play, they already have an instrument to practice with... seems this owuld be an additional device requiring more purchasing...

  • This system was originally invented by Harold Hill in Gary, Indiana and required no glove. It's called the "think system".
  • Don't trumpet and trombone (and most brass instruments) have multiple octaves that can only be accessed by the player changing their embouchure? How are you going to give them more than a dozen notes or so, without a sensor for their lips?
    • I didn't think that was possible either, but he must have some sort of sensor built in already, because he is able to make at least two tones with none of the valves down in the demonstration video (a C, and a G). He actually appears to be blowing, so perhaps there's some sort of sensor there that bases the pitch on the speed of the air or something
    • by treeves ( 963993 )

      Exactly right. More than just different octaves. One can play the harmonic series on a brass instrument without any changes to valves that are depressed.
      The harmonic series are multiples of the fundamental frequency of the horn, so the notes get closer together as you ascend the series.
      (e.g. A=110Hz, A'=220Hz, E'=330Hz, A''=440Hz, C#''=550Hz , E''= 660Hz, etc.)

      These notes are all accessible by the same valve combination, which means the same length horn. A change in valves just changes the length of the hor

  • This, at best, will only produce one side of the (in this case, brass) instrument: the fingering (or slide position).

    Any brass player knows that what you do with your embouchure is a bit important... and what about tonguing? or, basically, all articulations? And breath - how does volume work?

    Seems like at best it will produce relatively boring all-sound-the-same sampled notes. I don't see how it will get the required input from the player otherwise.

  • I've played trumpet for about 20 years or so (play in a few bands as well), so this was kind of a neat to see. I can see that it has some implications for learning the notes and technique but that's about it. Most new trumpet players (6 months or less experience) have a lot of difficultly making clear sounds or hitting the notes properly - so this device might be handy for learning scales and notes and whatnot. But at the same time, the person learning this isn't really learning how to make a proper soun
    • I agree, but I'd like to elaborate a bit - the point of synthesizers is actually to make synthetic sounds, sounds that are not confined by the physical configuration of a particular instrument. That's where it gets interesting. Synthpiano and drums are fine, sure, if you don't want to lug a goddamn piano to your gigs, but the real power of synths is to get out of the realm of physical limitations to your instruments.
      • I agree. It's like complaining that vegans cannot find a perfect replacement for meat, when they are not interested in the taste of dead animals at all.
  • the prototype system uses MIDI data output from the gloves via USB to reproduce the full range of notes from instruments such as the trumpet and trombone."

    The trumpet has three buttons you press. The rest is done using the mouthpiece. The trombone, you just use a slide to set the pitch.

    I am fairly certain this thing doesn't do at good job at the g-sharp trill key on a clarinet.

  • More like woodwinds, if they want to do a reasonable job. Sure as heck wouldn't work for keyboard instruments.

  • If only they did a keyboard...sadly they seem to have focused on only a couple brass instruments. Hardly revolutionary.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"