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The Gypsy MIDI controller turns the human body into a musical instrument

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January 25, 2006

The Gypsy MIDI controller turns the human body into a musical instrument

The Gypsy MIDI controller turns the human body into a musical instrument

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January 26, 2006 Dance and music go together. Intuitively, we know they have common elements, and while we cannot even begin to understand what they are or how they so perfectly complement one another, it is clear that they are both are an expression of something deep and fundamental within all human beings. Both express things that words cannot – beyond intellect, they are perhaps two of the fundamental building blocks of human expression, common to the souls of all people. Which is why when we saw this machine which links the two, we knew there was something special brewing. The GypsyMIDI is a unique instrument for motion-capture midi control – a machine that enables a human being to become a musical instrument - well, a musical instrument controller to be exact, or a bunch of other things depending on your imagination. Most importantly, the entire package is commercially available with extensive customisation features so that you can decide what each movement triggers – a colour, a sound, or perhaps something else again – anything that can be controlled by a digital interface. The set-up and operation is simple, intuitive and quick and the possibilities for performance art and musical applications are … landmark. One arm costs UKP480 (US$855), the whole MIDI suit costs UKP940 (US$1675), and the whole shebang (MIDI Suit, Wireless Interface, Tripod Stand, interface software, Manuals & Videos CD) goes for UKP1240 (US$2210) … that’s the total price for beginning work in new dimension. Like we said … landmark

The suit is modeled on the human skeletal form using rotational sensors at the joints. The GypsyMIDI simply plugs into a MIDI interface and arm movements are converted into a real-time stream of MIDI data. The mapping interface eXo-software allows the user to define how the movements are translated into MIDI control, including the ability to trigger notes, generate continuous control commands or even play scales.

Software included with the suit lets the user control any MIDI-enabled program including Cubase, Live, Logic Audio, ProTools, MotionBuilder, Reason, Traktor DJ Studio and any VST instrument or effect. Real-time control of sliders, cross-faders, and buttons allows many parameters such as volume, filter cut-off & resonance to be manipulated instantly.

The concept for the Midi suit started to evolve in San Francisco late ‘90s dance scene. Seeing how the body expressed music through dance lead us to experiment with the existing Gypsy Mocap system designed for 3D animation. The company wanted to explore the possibility of orchestrating and composing music for real time performance through body movements and dance. This was the beginning of the discovery of a diverse multimedia instrument that promises to add new dimensions to live performance for visual artists, DJs and musicians for years to come.

Now artists can have the advantage of a body instrument that allows music authoring in real time performance. This Mocap Midi controller suit translates body movements into sounds, loops, lights and visuals, completely merging performers and their art and enabling a wide range of musical and visual applications.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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