The piano has had a good run, as has the guitar. Both classical instruments have continuously reinvented themselves to drive the sounds of pop culture forward into our digital present. But as I watch this Lawnmower Man-esque clip of beatboxer Humanelectro, I feel like the days of our old instruments are numbered.
The last time we saw Humanelectro (otherwise known as Riyo Fujimoto), he was augmenting his performance through a series of custom Leap Motion gestures, adding reverb and other effects to his vocal track in real time. Now, he’s teamed up production studio Σ, which has added a pair of MIDI gloves (each finger can play a note as it bends), a heartbeat sensor (which turns one’s pulse into a drum kick), and a series of real-time projected animations (controlled by the Leap Motion) to the mix.
Alone, each of these components might be called gimmicks. But squint your eyes a bit to see the bigger picture. Conventional instruments are really just the user interface for music. And in this regard, Humanelectro is plugging himself into music at a more intimate level. Whereas any wind or string instrument will always be grounded in the needs of acoustic physics, we’ve reached a place in gestures and self-quantification that can completely question the rules of musical creation–not just a new UI for music but even what constitutes musicianship itself.
Humanelectro calls himself “a musician and a scientist.” Watch the clip above with that in mind. Don’t look at the cables and chips as our literal future. See them as a series of hypotheses around the musical world to come.