Imogen Heap performs Heapsong 6 using musical gloves developed in collaboration with UWE Bristol expert

Issue date: 20 April 2012

Award winning artist, producer, songwriter and instrumentalist Imogen Heap will create a unique live performance with the release of her latest song, 'Heapsong 6', which will incorporate data-gloves and motion tracking technology. 'The Gloves' represent a significant development of previous work by Imogen and DrTom Mitchell, a lecturer and researcher from UWE Bristol.The performance will be streamed live on Sunday 22 April at 19.30.

The gloves form the interface to a live musical composition system which is entirely controlled by gestures. Sounds can be recorded, synthesised and manipulated live on stage by the performer using intuitive hand movements. The gloves made their debut appearance during a four-minute musical performance by Imogen Heap in 2011 to the attendees of the TED Global Conference. Since then the gloves have undergone some major enhancements.

The development team has grown significantly, and now includes experts specialising in motion capture technology, fabric/textile-based electronics, music technology and fashion design.

'The Gloves' have inspired Imogen to look differently at sound and composition within a physical space, giving her maximum mobility and flexibility. 'Heapsong 6' will be the first time that the system has been used to write a complete song.

Dr Tom Mitchell says, “The team working on 'the gloves' have created the entire system from scratch. This includes the design and fabrication of the data-gloves, orientation sensors and all associated software for tracking the motion of Imogen's individual fingers and upper body.

“The network of sensors, microphones and LEDs have been embedded into a beautifully designed suit, which connects wirelessly to a nearby computer running dedicated software. A major development for Heapsong6 has been the implementation of an interface enabling Imogen to design how her gestures are mapped to musical processes; as a result she has been able to feed her creative ideas directly into the design of the system.”

Heapsong 6 marks the midway point of Imogen Heap's fourth solo studio album which she began on 14 March 2011 and is due for release in September 2012. Imogen is writing, recording and releasing the songs as she goes along. Affectionately referred to as 'Heapsongs', five tracks have been released so far.

'Heapsong 6' will be released on 22 April - Earth Day. The song will be performed live at an event held in the grounds of Imogen's elliptical home. It will be filmed and broadcast live on Facebook by FANetwork TV. The film will then become the promo video for the song - ie a live, one take solo musical performance and video shoot.

To tie in with Earth Day the whole event, including rehearsals, will be powered 'off grid' with the best available energy mix they have been able to source locally. This will include friends and fans on bicycles, who will be powering the lights.

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