Look around the room you’re in. Drum your fingers against some of the objects around you. Now imagine that you could turn those touches into any imaginable sound – and all you’d need to play them is a single contact mic. And we’re not talking just simplistic sounds – think expressive, responsive transformation of the world around you, all with just that one mic, thanks to clever gestural recognition.

Bruno Zamborlin has made that idea a reality, with hold-onto-your-chair results. It’s not available yet for public consumption, but it’s coming.

Bruno explains to CDM:

Mogees is a novel way for transforming any surface into a musical instrument.

By putting a (very cheap) contact microphone over a surface, the software can recognise different types of touch and associate them with different synthesisers.

Users can train the software with their own ‘gestures’, using both bare hands and objects. In the video demo we put the microphone over different surfaces such as kitchen tables and balloons.

The sound synthesis is based on two different techniques:

1 – physical modeling, which consists in generating the sound by simulating physical laws. Different materials can be simulated, such as membranes, strings, tubes and plates

2 – mosaicing, that works as follow: first, users load a sound folder; then, the noise coming from the microphone is analysed and the software continuously finds and plays its closest segment within the sound folder.

Mogees has not been realised yet. It could be published as Max4Live patch in some month.

Yes, we’ll be watching for future versions and publication, with bated breath and eager hands.


Update: Readers point to similar earlier work; obviously, contact mics have long been readily available. I’m not always concerned with whether something is new or not – old and cool can be cool. But what does appear to be new here is the additional gestural analysis to work more accurately with location. That takes an existing technique and refines its musicality. -PK