April 6, 7, 8 2011 11:00-19:00

Xth Sense – biophysical generation and control of music

The workshop offers an hands-on experience and both theoretical and practical training in gestural control of music and bodily musical performance, deploying the brand-new biosensing technology Xth Sense.

Developed by the workshop teacher Marco Donnarumma within a research project at The University of Edinburgh, Xth Sense 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 Xth Sense biosensor was designed to be easily implemented by anyone, no previous experience in electronics is required.
The applications of the Xth Sense 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.

Firstly, participants will be introduced to the Xth Sense Technology 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 Xth Sense 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 Xth Sense biosensors they built and the related software for their own use.

Perspective 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. Participation is limited to 10 candidates.

Requirements and further info
Participants need to provide their own headphones, external soundcards and laptops with Pd-extended already installed.
Free download is available at http://puredata.info/community/projects/software/pd-extended

Musicians interested in augmenting their favourite musical instrument by means of body gestures are encouraged to bring their instrument along.

More information about the Xth Sense and a video of a live performance can be viewed on-line at

6-7-8 April, 11.00-19.00 daily (6 hours sessions + 1 hour break)

EUR 90 including materials (EUR 15).
Register by sending an email to info@nkprojekt.de


DAY 1 – 7 hours

Introduction to the Xth Sense technology – 2h
Capabilities and scope of the framework
Technical overview
Understanding different musical and performance outcomes

Building your own Xth Sense biosensor – 5h
Cutting, soldering your own muscle sensor circuit
Building a wearable hardware
Refining the final device

DAY 2 – 7 hours

Using the Xth Sense Digital Signal Processing system (Pure Data-based) – 3h
The Pd language
Pd tips & tricks for live performances
Xth Sense software: learning how to use the graphical interface
Xth Sense software: playing around with audio modules and DSP chains
Xth Sense software: storing and recalling global preset scenes

Plug yourself in! Wearing the biosensors and communicating with the DSP application – 4h
Exploring muscle sounds design capabilities
Mapping kinetic energy to control values
Experimenting with real time muscle sounds audio processing
Controlling real time processing of traditional instruments with gestures and kinetic energy
Brainstorming ideas for the final projects

DAY 3 – 7 hours

Creating a performance – 4h
Theoretical insights on bodily musical performance
Reviewing audiovisual documentation of relevant performance projects
Designing your sonic vocabulary
Establishing data mapping definitions
Planning the format of the performance

Performance testing – 3h
Testing your system
Fixing the application and refining the interaction

Marco Donnarumma