Imogen Heap puts her best glove forward
Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap has a lot up her sleeve, or shall we say, fist. The musician has been taking her Indian fans by surprise, first with her sneak-peek performance at a Tweet-up at the erstwhile Bandra club Zenzi, then by collaborating with Rajasthani folk singers and Vishal Dadlani for The Dewarists show on Star World.music Updated: Nov 27, 2011 15:29 IST
Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap has a lot up her sleeve, or shall we say, fist. The musician has been taking her Indian fans by surprise, first with her sneak-peek performance at a Tweet-up at the erstwhile Bandra club Zenzi, then by collaborating with Rajasthani folk singers and Vishal Dadlani for The Dewarists show on Star World, and later by bringing her passion for off-kilter instruments on stage at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune last week.
Now, with her latest performance in Delhi and Mumbai, the indie musician has pulled out another trick — her innovative music gloves — that seem straight out of sci-fi film Minority Report (2002).
Like Tom Cruise’s set of black glove-mouse that controlled the computer with literally a click of a finger, Imogen strapped on her high-tech version, developed by Dr Thomas Mitchell, to demonstrate how this gestural music system works. “The gloves are an idea of freeing myself, to make music more expressively on stage,” she says, adding, “I’m able to express myself even more with these gloves. The hands are one of our most expressive forms of communication and so, it seems, to just limit them to pressing record and moving a fader up and down, greatly diminishes your experience as a musician but also, an audience’s experience. To me, it’s not gimmicky; it’s a great way to perform live music.”
Showing city fans her firm grasp over music, Imogen was seen controlling sound through hand gestures and movements. Using motion tracking technology, the gloves equipped with wireless mics, an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope and many other sensors, can detect the movements of the finger joints and capture sound. So as Imogen opened her arms wide, the sound became louder and as the performer closed them, it was quiet. What’s more, she can record a loop by opening her hand, filtering sound by bringing her hands together and panning by pointing in one desired direction.
The musician first showcased her data gloves in July this year at a TED Global conference in Edinburgh. And though she is still perfecting her musical mittens, Delhi and Mumbai were the first performances where she waved her hands for the audience’s applause. Confessing that her first live outing with the gloves was a success, she says, “I want to write more casual music, I want to learn how to integrate dance better and have more movements on stage and be freer of my gear - one of the reasons of designing these gloves.”