Fingers tap on tables, hit mighty drums and stop the string at exactly the right place to make a violin sing, but last night a new chapter in musical expression using fingers and hands was written as Kris Halpin became the first person to complete a tour of music performed entirely using the Mi.Mu gloves. The fact that these musical gloves are also accessible music technology for Kris makes this even more remarkable.
Two years ago Kris approached Drake Music for help in taking his musical journey forward. “I’m wobbly on one side, and I’m getting wobblier, so I’m not able to play guitar in the same way I was.” Kris explained to the audience. It was affecting his musicality to the extent that songs were being dropped from his live set.
Drake Music were invited by Mi.Mu Gloves to become collaborators, which involved investing financially into the project and working with their team over 6 months to explore and develop, in our case with a specific focus on its potential as accessible music technology. Subsequently a set of gloves bespoke to Kris’ hands were made and 14 months on, last nights concert marked the culmination of a remarkable musical renaissance.
Playing the legendary Half Moon in Putney, Kris was joined for the last song by Imogen Heap, the artist who conceived and drove the Mi.Mu project, and now a Drake Music ambassador. Kris’ set covered new music, a Bjork cover and old material, reinterpreted for the gloves, including “Ratted Me Out”, one of the songs Kris was forced to drop from his live set due to the disabling barriers he was facing.
Kris is not only a musical pioneer, he is also a gifted singer songwriter and a charismatic raconteur on stage. As he navigated the inevitable technical gremlins, the audience were kept on side with his story telling, honesty and performance brilliance.
The scale of his achievement is difficult to overstate, combining a one man show of original music with one of the most complex technical performance practices currently available. The sheer precision and expression showcased was astonishing, and showed what is possible with these remarkable instruments.
Brilliant music technology with accessibility designed in.
With thanks to our partners at Mi.Mu and to Imogen Heap.
‘The Gloves Are On’ tour was supported by Attitude is Everything, and funded by the PRS Foundation and Arts Council England.
Photos by John Kelly and Gawain Hewitt