One of my most unusual and inspiring friends, astrophysicist and music producer Kelly Snook, has been working on a fascinating project, the Gloves, with the Grammy-award winning British musician Imogen Heap. The Gloves are a cutting edge experimental gestural music ware originally developed for the purpose of Imogen Heap’s studio and stage work, but now, through a Kickstarter campaign, can be made available to any other experimental musician!

Kelly Snook and the Musical Gloves

Kelly Snook and the Musical Gloves
Kelly Snook and the Musical Gloves. Photo courtesy of Caeli Lohr

Today I asked Kelly a few questions about her inspiration and work on the Musical Gloves. Enjoy:

WebSage:
Kelly, As I was watching the new Cosmos program with Neil deGrasse Tyson, I kept wondering about the sounds of the outer space and your work while you were at NASA. Could you tell me how that work prepared you for the exciting new Gloves Project you have been working on with Imogen Heap’s team?

Kelly Snook:
Getting a Ph.D., working at NASA, and working with Imogen Heap have a lot in common – one thing they have in common is that they take you to new places and make you comfortable pushing boundaries and not being afraid to experiment. Also, they draw upon a confidence that impossible-seeming challenges are worth pursuing.

WebSage:
I have always admired that you seem to pursue anything with unshakable faith. What gives you that faith? And if experimenting is part of your daily agenda, how do you deal with failure?

Kelly Snook:
Failure is a good sign. It means we’re trying something new or something that will make us grow. Faith comes from first principles.

WebSage:
What first principles, if you do not mind elaborating?

Kelly Snook:

  1. Science is investigation of the knowable truths. Religion is investigation of unknowable truths.
  2. The knowable and unknowable are both worthy pursuits
  3. Everything else follows.

WebSage:
And a hand wrapped in a musical glove is a beautiful symbol of reaching towards the audio truth! Can you explain what the Glove is and what is your role in its creation?

Kelly Snook:
The glove is a wearable musical instrument that lets you control sound (through a computer) with your gestures. My role has been as one of the small team of developers of the hardware, software, and audio systems of the glove. My main focus has been on the software and audio side.

WebSage:
What is the Gloves’ team’s ultimate goal and how can we — musicians and techies — help?

Kelly Snook:
You can help spread the word about our Kickstarter to anyone who might want to try the gloves:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mimu/mimu-glove-for-music

WebSage:
I sure will! Last but not least, going back to the theme of music in space, Bulgarians are very proud that the original golden disk that was sent with the Voyager contained a beautiful Bulgarian folk song. If you were the music curator of such a disk, what additional selections would you include?

Kelly Snook:
Ravel’s piano concerto in G, second movement. That’s the most beautiful thing ever written, in my opinion.

WebSage:
Thank you so much for your time, Kelly! Good luck and happy Nawruz (Baha’i New Year)!

Kelly Snook:
You too!

2 thoughts on “Kelly Snook and the Musical Gloves

  1. Laetitia Sonami brought this to the world in 1991. http://www.sonami.net/works/ladys-glove/ The way Jessop, Snook and Imogen Heap have claimed authorship over this instrument without giving credit to Sonami is shameful. Stephen Wilson published an article published by MIT Press in 2002 discussing Sonami’s Lady’s Glove, nearly identical to Jessop’s and Snook’s instrument.? Please acknowledge this…

    1. Hello, Benjamin, and thanks for your comment. I reached out to Kelly and have included here a summary of her response:

      “That wasn’t Imogen’s original inspiration, but definitely predates ours. We are not claiming any originality of concept or invention. In fact, she and many others are acknowledged and credited on our blog. All they need to do is look at:
      http://theglovesproject.com/data-gloves-overview/

      It’s not that they haven’t existed in the past. It’s that they haven’t been available to people to buy and use for themselves in this form so that’s all we’ve been trying to create – a controller that eventually will be available to anyone/everyone who wants one.

      We would never claim to have come up with this idea!! Neither did/would Elly Jessop, my MIT Media Lab friend who made a glove that sparked Imogen’s original vision of her gloves, to whom your commenter refers…

      Hope that helps!”

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