ambience: Shoe-generated music
In prehistoric times, people would play music on flutes which they fashioned out of bones and drums made of animal hides. Well, fast forward to the dawn of the new millenium, when the latest musical instrument is a pair of computerized dancing shoes. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“There’s a person here that has shoes with electronics on it, and the electronics consist of many, many sensors that measure pressure, how fast he’s whipping his foot around, how high his foot is up off the stage, where he is on the stage, and the computer takes that sensor information and makes sounds with it.”
Joe Paradiso, a principal research scientist at M.I.T.’s Medialab, invented this experimental musical footwear. He says it could one day be useful in medicine or sports, to help diagnose foot problems or train athletes. Joe Paradiso also invented a musical carpet, which has sensors to measure footfalls and low-powered radar that detects upper body motion.
“I was just always fascinated with giving a performer like a dancer extra capability to really express. Instead of having the music control their motion, let them control the music.”
The composition of this music, Paradiso says, is an interaction between a person and a computer, and it allows people of different abilities to play.
“As you get better, the computer pulls away, and lets you control more and more of the instrument. That’s what you want, and also to have the computer train you to use it. So that as you’re learning the computer’s coaching you, and you’re developing with it to make this interesting expression union of the machine and you that really is very powerful.”
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