Interactive Music Systems

Course Description (HMU405)

This course serves as an introduction to emerging research trends in the field of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). You will critically engage with musical gesture acquisition and cross-disciplinary concerns through systems design and creative practice, including issues of control intimacy and perceptual coherence.

Building Musical Systems

Past classes have built the Xth Sense, Atari Noise Boards, Stutter Synthesizers, contact mics and other sensing devices using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Beagle Bone Black. The course also focuses on gesture extraction using software libraries, including motion capture using Kinect and Leap Motion, as well as pitch, envelope and timbre tracking in Pd. Students combine these tools to develop cross-domain mapping strategies for live music performance.

Guest Lecture: Marco Donnarumma – Biophysical Music (Xth Sense)

The Xth Sense™ (2010-14) is a free and open biophysical technology. With it you can produce music with the sound of your body. The Xth Sense captures sounds from heart, blood and muscles and uses them to integrate the human body with a digital interactive system for sound and video production. 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).

For more information on the Xth Sense, please visit:

Project Development Example

We purchased the Xth Sense parts list (provided by Marco) and built a number of Xth Sense circuits in class. Students then incorporated the Xth Sense into their developing performance systems, often in combination with other musical interfaces and traditional instruments.

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