Marco Donnarumma | sound art and live media performance, human body and biotechnology

  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device
  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device
  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device
  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device
  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device
  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device
  • Marco Donnarumma - Xth Sense Biophysical wearable Device

The Xth Sense (XS) is a free and open biophysical technology. It was originally created in 2011. One year after, in 2012, it was named the “world’s most innovative new musical instrument” and awarded the first prize in the Margaret Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition by the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (US). Today, the Xth Sense is used by a steadily growing community of creatives, ranging from performing artists and musicians, to researchers in physiotherapy and prosthetics, and universities and students in diverse fields.

During this hands-on workshop participants build manually from scratch their own low cost, biosensing wearable muscle sounds sensor, and are offered an intensive training on bodily performance of music, live video and other media. Details below.

The workshop offers an hands-on experience and both theoretical and practical training in gestural control of music and bodily musical performance, deploying the Xth Sense (XS), a brand-new biophysical technology. The XS was recently awarded the first prize in the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition (Georgia Tech, US 2012) as the “world’s most innovative new musical instrument”. Participants build their own XS biosensor and learn how to generate interactive music from the muscle sounds of their bodies.

Developed by the workshop teacher Marco Donnarumma within a research project at The University of Edinburgh, the XS is a framework for the application of muscle sounds to the biophysical generation and control of music. It consists of a low cost, DIY biosensing wearable device and an Open Source based software for capture, analysis and audio processing of biological sounds of the body (Pure Data-based). Muscle sounds are captured in real time and used both as sonic source material and control values for sound effects, enabling the performer to control music simply with his body and kinetic energy. Forget your mice, MIDI controllers, you will not even need to look at your laptop anymore.

The XS biosensor was designed to be easily implemented by anyone, no previous experience in electronics is required. The applications of the XS technology are manifold: from complex gestural control of samples and audio synthesis, through biophysical generation of music and sounds, to kinetic control of real time digital processing of traditional musical instruments, and more.

Contact to host a course >

Below you can view a live recording of Music for Flesh II, for the Xth Sense, at The University of Edinburgh, UK, March 2011.

Music for Flesh II – solo piece for Xth Sense biosensing wearable device from Marco Donnarumma on Vimeo.

Firstly, participants will be introduced to the XS by its author and led through the assembling of their own biosensing wearable hardware using the materials provided. Next, they will become proficient with the XS software framework: all the features of the framework will be unleashed through practical exercises. Theoretical background on the state of art of gestural control of music and new musical instruments will be developed by means of an audiovisual review and participatory critical analysis of relevant projects selected by the instructor. Eventually, participants will combine hardware and software to implement a solo or group performance to be presented during the closing event. At the end of the workshop, participants will be free to keep the XS biosensors they built and the related software for their own use.

Prospective participants
The workshop is open to anyone passionate about sound and music. Musical background and education does not matter as long as you are ready to challenge your usual perspective on musical performance. Composers, producers, sound designers, musicians, field recordists are all welcome to join our team for an innovative and highly creative experience. No previous experience in electronics or programming is required, however participants should be familiar with digital music creation.

Upcoming workshops

Access Space, Sheffield (UK), 1-2 March 2014.
STEIM Pt.2, Amsterdam (NL), 15-16 March 2014.

Subscribe to an Xth Sense workshop: go to this page, and book your place by visiting the link to each event.

Past workshops (selected)

DA Fest, Sofia (BG), September 2013.
Kontejner, Zagreb (HR), September 2013.
STEIM Pt.1, Amsterdam (NL), February, 2013.
APO33, Le Lieu Unique, Nantes (FR), January, 2013.
Piksel Festival, Bergen (N), October, 2012.
FILE, Hypersonica, SESC-SP, Sao Paulo (BR), July, 2012.
Body/Controlled, LEAP, Berlin (DE), July, 2012.
BEAM Festival, Brunel University, London (UK), June, 2012.
Harvestworks, New York (US), May, 2012.
Liveness: prosthesis, gesture and metaphor, CENART, Mexico City (MX), April, 2012.
Madatac 03, Caixaforum, Madrid (ES), December, 2011.
CultureLab, Newcastle University (UK), November, 2011.
7o Simposio Internacional Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, ENAP/UNAM, Mexico City (MX), October, 2011.
Noise=Noise, nnnnn, London (UK), August, 2011.
4th Pure Data Convention, Bauhaus Universitat, Weimar (DE), August, 2011.
NK Berlin, NK, Berlin (DE), April 2011.

Picture courtesy of Chris Scott and 4th Pure Data Convention, Weimar, 2011.