Wearable gestural instrument, 2021-ongoing
Supported by Struer Tracks, SPOR Festival and the Danish Composers’ Society
co-financed and partially developed at Academy for theater and digitality (DE), instrument inventors initiative (NL) and sound art lab (DK)
Hreyfð (meaning ‘she is moved’ in Icelandic) is a wearable speaker instrument that creates sounds with gestures. The instrument is a part of my ongoing research on live electronic music that links the physical body and gestures with music performance. The aim is to find methods to perform electronic music with a vivid expression on both audible, visual, and tactile levels.
Hreyfð uses microphones and speakers to create audio feedback that are processed with a microcontroller and gyroscope signals. The feedback creates a field of audible possibilities that one can learn how to play with practice. The instrument always has its own playful, unpredictable, and organic character that the performer navigates precisely in proximity and location. With audio speakers attached to the body, the performer is directly the sound source. Thus, the physical body also acts as a sound object that moves in space; physio-spatial sound or a sonic choreography.
Hreyfð is a part of my long-term research focusing on wearable gestural instruments. It is driven by an urge to create performative possibilities for electronic music that are both expressive, precise, and transparent. This means creating electronic instruments with a similar hearing-seeing relationship as when a person plays an acoustic instrument. When experiencing music performance, regardless of one’s knowledge of an instrument, most acoustic instruments share a visual aspect that demonstrates function and expression. As an audience, you make a cognitive link between what you see and hear which affects your experience and how “expressive” the performance was.
Simultaneously, many music technology trends focus on laptops as the primary instrument, often extended with controllers that mimic computer keyboards, pianos, or machines. They rarely mimic other instruments or performance possibilities. In many ways, it is like an office job, hence the common joke about DJs and electronic musicians sending emails while performing.
With expression and transparency as a starting point, the research has led me to instrument design that uses the embodiment of sound through the performer’s physicality to express music. Since electronic instruments are not tied to physical materials such as wood, strings, or air pressure, their means of performativity are not limited by it either. Thus, electronic instruments have the possibility to transform the imperceivable; imaginary spaces become audible through movement, and the materiality of air and space becomes visible. Therefore, the performer can be simultaneously a performer of music, space, and movement.
Programming and technical assistance
Costume design assistance (ATD 2022)
Dancers (workshop ATD fellowship, 2022)
Intern (spring 2021)
Eli Cohen, Jin-Young Won, Joy Kammin, and Lukas Karvelis
Francesco Di Maggio