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Seattle Symphony uses Kinect to conduct robotic instruments

Nick Summers, @nisummers
May 28, 2015
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Microsoft might have scaled back its ambitions for Kinect, but creative modders and developers are still finding ways to put the peripheral to good use. Conductor Ludovic Morlot used the device to control three "kinetic" instruments -- a robotic grand piano, 24-reedhorn sculpture and custom concert chimes -- as part of an intimate Seattle Symphony performance on May 1st. During the 22-minute composition, Morlot could start, stop and control the volume of the instruments with gestures. Making a fist in different places let him select the unusual instruments, while waving the other hand up and down would change the amplification. The system was devised by Trimpin, a kinectic sculptor, sound artist and musician, and will remain in the Benaroya Hall so that visitors can try it for themselves. Microsoft seems to have given up on its second-gen Kinect, but mods like this one are a reminder of its untapped potential. Between this concert, a weird musical sandbox and a Nine Inch Nails festival tour, it seems to have a small future in the music industry.

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