There are many high-tech solutions to making fashion into a musical instrument, like embedding sound circuitry, sensors, and wireless transmitters. Designer Alyce Santaro has found a low-tech, but ingenious, solution: weaving a special textile out of recycled audio tape. Dresses, flags, and even messenger bags can suddenly incorporate audio materials. In 2003, Alyce built a special commission for John Fishman of Phish that allowed him to play rhythmic sound collages on the garment. (Shown at right; thanks, Alyce!)

If you’re in NYC, you can check out Alyce’s work in person at the January 4 Dorkbot meeting at the Location One gallery. Or check out more online:

Sonic Fabric Site

Alyce Santoro Portfolio

Fishman Dress Movie [zipped]

Sonic Fabric Gallery

You can expect textiles to be a major source of innovation in the near future: think conductive materials and flex sensors, cabling built into garments (via conductive fibers, not bulky traditional cables), and more, especially once embedded circuits get smaller, cheaper, and easier to use. Now, whether you look geeky or hot — and, more importantly, how you sound — is entirely up to you. CDM’s previous roundup looked at just a few possibilities (and sparked plenty of discussion):

Sonic Clothing Roundup: Projects, Resources, DIY

  • johnsrude

    The high tech sonic clothing is cool but if you can't wait, go retro and take a few pages from Laurie Anderson:

    Take apart toy keyboards and drum machines and sew the triggers and guts into clothing. Put piezoelectric triggers on eyeglass frames and beat on your head.

    I've used small piezoelectric drum triggers I've bought on eBay to trigger an Alesis D4 drum module. I've put them in drumsticks and in my shoes for a phantom drum kit effect.

    If you have an acoustic-MIDI converter you can use piezoelectric triggers to do just about anything you can imagine.

    Has anyone done anything with triggers and the Evolver module yet?

    The Nettles