Body-Synth; your body is the musical instrument

The music and dance relationship is about to be turned on its head. Instead of moving your body to the music – your body moving will create the music.

Since hand clapping first set the beat, since the first musical instrument – we have been dancing. Musical instruments have evolved over time to produce the most amazing sounds. Each time we found that sound could be produced in a new way there was a long process of refining and perfecting each instrument. Once standardized instruments emerged it allowed for the proliferation of music written for each – and then shortly afterwards – standard groups like an orchestra, jazz band or quartet.

The body is a musical instrument too (no bean jokes). We sing, we clap, we stop our feet (we will rock you). I for one drum on my stomach and whistle. Yet, is there a way that we can engaged our whole bodies not just in these traditional fashions to make music? Can our bodies be a synthesizer? Yes.

My first introduction to the body as musical instrument actually came from Mary Poppins:

What is going on here? Bert has put existing instruments within reach and created mechanical actuators for his limbs. Well, modern technology is allowing us to do the same. With the advent of the kinect it is not easy to put an imaginary musical instrument within arms length. But why use existing instruments? There are a slew of new videos with new correlations between motion and music. Here a dancers arm motions are for tone and jumps are for drums.

For synthesizers a software tool called KiNectar let’s you body trigger and modulate tones.


We are essentially in the very early design phases of learning how to use our new skin. The musical instrument evolution begins again!

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About livingthememe

engineer and armchair philosopher
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