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Musical Gloves

These were completely inspired by the Wandering Wands. I didn't really have anything nice to use for a wand (just a plastic straw), and as I was looking for something else to use, it occurred to me that it would be fun to be able to "conduct" the music. So I made gloves that make the sounds change as you move your hands.-Margaret

The musical gloves work nearly the same way as the Wandering Wands do, with light sensors and a midi board. I put a sensor in the pointer finger of the left glove and one in the palm of the right glove.

I had tried making Wandering Wands, but wasn't satisfied with how they looked or worked. I used chopsticks for the wands and just taped the wires on. My wires weren't very long (though I lengthened them some) and I have a midi board that needs to be plugged in, so it wasn't very satisfying to try to point them at stuff in a very restricted space. I wanted to be able to use my hands.

Here's a close-up of the sensor I put in the fingertip of the left glove. It is easy to point to a wide range of light and dark without having to move your hand much. I also like that the sounds change as you curl and uncurl your fingers.

The program maps the finger-tip light sensor to a glockenspiel sound. As you move your finger, it makes a lovely sound running up and down the scale.

Here's a close-up of the sensor I embedded in the palm of the glove. The program maps this sensor to percussion sounds. The midi percussion plays different instruments at different pitches: with low tones, you get a quiet, low rumbling. Higher tones are sharper (and seem louder).

I loved how this sensor worked: you hold your hand palm down, and raise and lower it from the table, a gesture similar to one a conductor might use to suggest volumes to an orchestra. The sounds the midi makes responded nicely to that movement.

Here's the program I used for the gloves. I found that the "%" math operation worked really well, but it doesn't work the way that I expected it to. But it sounded good, so I kept it.

You can try changing the instruments (change the top numbers in the "setinstr" blocks. Changing the lower numbers in the math "%" blocks will change the range of notes you get. You could try subtracting or dividing by a value, too.

Its hard to read the program in this tiny picture, so here's a larger version that should be more readable.

What I would change:

Perhaps the best improvement would be to shop earlier in the season. The only gloves left at Target in late August were kid-sized.

The other sort of obvious limitation is that the gloves are tethered to the cricket, the cricket is tethered to the midi board which in turn is tethered to both a power supply and the speakers. So the gloves are not portable.

Still, even with the short cords, the gloves allowed for pretty expressive experimenting and I really felt like I was "playing" them. The sounds went together well (and worked well for the types of movement I could do with my finger and my palm).

What else
Learn to make copper sensors.
Read what Margaret wrote about her interactive storytelling idea.
Will food conduct electricity? Read about an activity that combines food and Crickets.

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