Bridging the gap between computer generated music and real-world instruments, the "Imaginary Marching Band" is a fledgling, open-source project that allows music to be created by imitating the actions of playing the real thing on a sensor-equipped glove. The work of Scott Peterman, a Masters student at Parsons New School Of Design in New York City, the prototype system uses MIDI data output from the gloves via USB to reproduce the full range of notes from instruments such as the trumpet and trombone.
The Imaginary Marching Band's glove utilizes an open source Arduino microcontroller and is designed to communicate with audio editing software like Garageband, Ableton and others.
There are currently six instruments in the "band" – a trumpet, trombone, tuba, snare drum, bass drum and cymbals. For the brass instruments, air pressure sensors are used for the mouthpiece so you are in effect blowing into your thumb to play. A rolling ball tilt switch sensor on the fingers measures the fingering action of playing the notes.
Peterman hopes to encourage others to experiment with the design and help grow the concept.
An actual band using the technology will be playing at various festivals and institutions over the coming months.
Those looking to blow their own virtual trumpet can check out the Imaginary Marching Band page on Kickstarter here.
Peterman demonstrates the imaginary trumpet in the video below (he admits he's not a musician – but you'll get the picture of what the system can do):