Mi.Mu Gloves

Image: photo of Kris Halpin playing Mi.Mu glove with arm outstretched and fist clenched

Kris MiMu demo 01sqKris Halpin is a professional musician and singer songwriter who is collaborating with Drake Music and the Mi.Mu Gloves team to test out this ground-breaking new instrument.

In 2014 Halpin, who has an impairment that is making guitar and piano playing increasingly difficult, approached Drake Music to work with us to explore new technology that could allow him to continue making music  and playing live as an expressive performer.

He is now working with the Mi.Mu gloves through our DM Lab Research and Development programme and has said that the technology has literally changed his life. Kris is an avid blogger and has been documenting the entire journey of this project.


What Are Mi.Mu Gloves?

Mi.Mu Gloves are a musical interface developed by a team led by singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, now a Drake Music advocate.

Looking for a more expressive way to use music technology on stage, Imogen put together a team who – over many years and with a lot of work – have come up with an innovative gestural musical device.

It is not only one of the most expressive and deep musical interfaces we have seen, but also one of the most difficult to truly master.

This means learning and playing the gloves is an experience akin to studying a traditional instrument and gives real depth of experience and engagement for the musician.

The Mi.Mu gloves team truly are digital Luthiers.

The beginning

Kris Halpin and Imogen Heap
Kris and Imogen

Drake Music met Kelly Snook, one of the Glove Team, at the first hackathon they ran with their project partners, Furtherfield. This led to a series of conversations.

Drake Music work with and for disabled musicians to break down barriers to music. Designing accessibility into new instruments is one of the ways we work to open up access to music for all.

Initially we were looking to work with the team to explore how accessibility could be designed in to the development of this cutting edge technology, as they moved to open up the instrument to more people for the first time.

With Kris’ involvement, it has proved that the Glove, as it is, has been a profound and enabling expressive instrument for him, and has swiftly allowed the access issues to be dealt with, and consequently catapulted his artistic practice into a new area.

Interestingly, Kris talks about how the Gloves have allowed his performance practice to more closely reflect his writing practice, and of gaining more confidence as a performer on stage.

What next?

Moving forward we will continue to work with Kris to support his work with the gloves and to explore the ways in which gesture control can open up more accessibility in music.

In 2021 we will also be working with the MiMu Gloves team and UWE in Bristol on a new Creative Technology PhD studentship – “Co-Designing and Rapid Prototyping Accessible Digital Musical Instruments”.

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