Friday we looked at a big roundup of game controllers for music, courtesy Chris O'Shea. Ready to look like a cyborg when making music? Want to keep your entire budget under US$20? Here's where to get started (thanks to atariboy for some link pointers here):

  1. Get the hardware: Pick up a P5 virtual reality gaming glove. (Check Froogle and the like; they're easy to find. I just picked one up for US$15.)
  2. Get something to make music with: Get something to control, like plasq's free/donationware sampler instrument Musolomo.
  3. Watch a video demo: Don't believe it will work? Take a pause for inspiration from this geeky video of P5 and Musolomo in action, courtesy OCP)
  4. Dig into the research: Check Audiomulch's page for info on P5 research. You've got Melbourne ensemble Simulus to thank.
  5. Windows drivers: Windows users will want P5 Glove MIDI.
  6. Mac drivers: Mac OS X user will probably need two pieces of software, depending on their setup. P5osc supports new-wave protocol OSC, but not standard MIDI as you'll need for Ableton Live, most virtual instruments, and the like. To convert to MIDI, get P5osc and a copy of DoctorOp's
    Max/MSP-based P5 Glove MIDI Assigner, so you can assign the inputs of
    the P5 to MIDI data. (Click on the software tab to find it. Available
    as standalone in case you don't have Max/MSP.)
  7. Start practicing: You're set! Assign the MIDI controllers
    to something interesting, like a sample loop point or filters or a
    synth, and play! Now you just have to figure out a way to make good music. đŸ™‚

More music & gaming coverage coming soon; there's simply too much to cover here.

  • atariboy

    From songcarver, another plasqer:

    As you may know, I am a big believer in leveraging existing technologies into new areas. Like having mobile phones which can charge off a USB cable, so no matter where you are in the world you can always charge your phone, by just plugging into a STANDARD.

    Well, music technology should really borrow more from gaming. Zillions of dollars has been poured into making reliable, fast, cheap and readily-available interfaces. And they have nutted out the tough stuff like cordless technology etc

    Pity, though, they have not nutted STANDARDS :sigh

  • Guest

    in fact the original dataglove (by th. zimmerman and j. lanier) was designed for playing air-guitar like jimi hendrix. so it is originally a musical device.

  • Guest

    The original dataglove was designed for manipulating objects in VR and for playing Nintendo. Guitar had nothing to do with it.

    So I watched the video, and yeah, you can make noises with the hand gadget. But there doesn't seem to be anything musical about it. Noise != Music.

  • admin

    The first Zimmerman data glove was invented in 1980 to play a synth, as some quick Google research will reveal. Not a heck of a lot of VR in the early 80s.

    And as for "nothing musical about it", that's up to the operator. Try banging your hands randomly on a piano and see what you get. There's nothing inherently musical in any control mechanism. You provide the music. Not to say this particular control will be useful to everyone, but if someone locked you in a room with ANYTHING for a few months, a resourceful musician ought to be able to do something with it. (Unless it's a tuba. Then I'm clueless. Maybe locked up for a few decades.)


  • Guest

    The problem with these interfaces is that there is no 'callibrating' feedback on the actual input.

    ie, because the gestures are all 'wafty', the music tends to be wafty in gesture. what we need to look at is haptic feedback for these types of interfaces, for example if moving your arm up and down creates transposition of audio, then you want to feel 'notches' for the notes.

    The other aspect is the peripheral vision. I think a lot can be done with visual interfaces which are designed to work with the peripheral vision.. much more 'vague', larger, and more of an 'impression' than lots of specific details. To use the same example, you would have a monitor in the corner of your eye that perhaps made the whole screen change colour when hitting octaves, and some sort of 'shape' that you can recognize for the transposition interval.

    The other key problems are that the DAW software and hardware rarely talks to each other.. ie, there is no way for ableton live to tell a controller that it has crossed an important threshold..say the 0 point on a mixer. Or no way for a hardware controller to request the vcurrent value of a variable.

    The final point is, that most of these interfaces tend to come from a perspective of linear data, whereas in my mind, this information is not a linear series of numbers. For exampe, Pan has an important point at 'middle' but the data is just another number. Sure, if you as the controller know what you are controlling, you could program that in… but theres no real communication in a two way fashion.

    The successor to MIDI, OpenSound looks to hold promise for opening up channels of communication like this, which will be essential for much more intimate, tactile (in both senses of the word) controllers.


  • admin

    The peripheral vision idea is new, I hadn't thought of that. Just goes to show there are a lot of ways to provide 'calibrating' data to the performer.

    Right now, there's just a lack of feedback in general — virtually every opportunity is missed. I'm not convinced that linear data is an issue, because you can do with the data whatever you want. You can make pan 64 very significant, in both hardware and software feedback; it's just a number.

    But the fundamental problem, as you say, is the lack of bi-directional communication with the software. Even with MIDI, you could do more than is being done now (though I agree, something like OSC is wildly overdue).

    I'll certainly do some OSC coverage soon / this summer, and may have some hands-on with actual experiments.


  • Guest

    good points! still:

    about the visual feedback: a strenght of interfaces like this is to stop staring at a screen & make digital music in a different manner, so why should one use a monitor again? If I don't hear the interval, it seems useless anyway, no?

  • Guest

    in the uk for under 50 pounds…any one know where to get these cheaper (ala the states ebay prices?)



  • Please note that all of the links on this page to have now changed to

    The files are available from the following page:

  • Sean

    Check out the glove in action, plugged into Live..

  • evans

    how do i use max.msp with the p5glove? is it possible to send me the full patch that i can use?

    thank you Evans

  • Choong

    I haven't been able to find these stateside for less than $50, even through Froogle. If anything, I would have assumed that the prices for these would go down over time. But it could just be me not looking in the right places and punching in the right terms. Please help.

  • Thanks for the updated link, Ross.

    Bought a p5 from an online friend, received it today, plugged it in, went to and was controlling 11 parameters in a matter of moments. Sheer genius! Course, you must be able to imagine what you can do with this device in order to demonstrate how it can aid you in expressing your musical ideas. It's something I've been awaiting for a long, long time, particularly after my Photon X25 got stolen. It is a miraculous midi device now!

  • Pingback: MIDI « HD Artists and Second Life()