• 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

Xth Sense, Biophysical Music

The Xth Sense (XS) is a free and open biophysical technology. I originally created the Xth Sense 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, using the Xth Sense (XS), a biophysical technology. 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

kulturvaerftet, Copenhagen (DK), 16 May 2015

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

Past workshops (only a selection)

Hyphen Hub, New York City (US), October 2014
KultuuriKatel, Tallinn (FI), August 2014
2° Encuentro Internacional de Arte Sonoro, Mexico City (MX), April 2014
STEIM Pt.2, Amsterdam (NL), March 2014
Reverse Space, New York City (US), March 2014
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.