Kris Halpin’s Adventures In Music, Technology & Disability.

MiMu Gloves Live: That You’ll Never Know @ Live Music Now

On Friday I was at a conference held by for Live Music Now. LMN are a fantastic organisation connecting music experts to SEN/D schools and other disability focused groups. I was there to show off the MiMu Gloves and talk about my journey through the gloves and my tentative steps into SEN/D focused music leading.

This demo shows quite neatly how I use the gloves to live-loop different instruments and layers. I’m really pleased with how it sounds now. This song was always a casualty of the light-touch electronic sound I started creating with the gloves. There’s a big wall of feedback-type sound, a huge droptuned guitar riff, and some finger-tapping type sounds.

I’m manipulating sounds of my regular guitars (in this case my Ibanez 7-String) sounds for the main riff. This concept has been with me for a while; to play *my* guitars “through” the gloves. I’m still playing live, and it’s still my guitar, there’s just a new interface between. This is exactly the kind of thing I got excited about doing with the gloves when I first got them, a neat little moment of accessibility creating something new entirely…

(My) Access Barriers To Blogging.

I hadn’t originally intended to do it but throughout January I blogged every day. That was really just to set up the scene of what’s going on with this project. There was no big ambition to blog every day, however it seems to be proving to be quite interesting to people and it is certainly a healthy thing to do for me. That is, in theory. In practice, I hit an access barrier that wasn’t there the last time I blogged day (which is a good few years ago at least).

Typing. It fucking kills nowadays.

Cerebral palsy keeps me guessing. The hard medical line is that CP is a non-progressive condition. I think that’s a little bit misleading. I understand that the neurological damage doesn’t get worse, but the wear and tear that that imposes on the human body through the course of a lifetime simply has to. I can’t move my limbs accurately and comfortably. My joints are my muscles get yanked in around in ways that they were never “designed” to do.

One of many results; my hands are shakier and less reliable nowadays. That is of course old news in some contexts; the impact on my guitar playing and glove use is well documented. Struggling with fairly menial tasks such as typing is the new thing for me. That makes daily blogging painful and less accessible. Boo hiss indeed.

But, as is often the way, technology brings hope. Apple’s own Siri voice recognition technology is laughably inept in my opinion, so I didn’t hold out much hope of being able to do speech to text blogging. A recommendation via a colleague at Drake music led me to software called Dragon Dictate. It’s not perfect, but my distrust in voice recognition technology was unfair it seems. Dragon is actually working really well for me, so hopefully that brings me some relief in effect.

My work at Drake music often means lengthy evaluation processes, which involve a lot of typing. When it comes to medical forms but I have to fill in by hand with a pen… Well, forget about it. Having the freedom to not only work hands-free not only spares me discomfort, but it seems to be quicker too.

So, I’m hoping to get back on track with regular blogging this week. And in case you’re wondering, yes; this is indeed the first blog post I have written entirely hands-free with this new technology. Living in the future FTW.

Studio Diary #7

Momentum is a powerful thing. Last week I worked five days straight, and really hit my stride. This week, Monday and Tuesday were wiped out by other projects, website tweaking and studio availability. That’s meant today has felt like hard work. I’ve spent hours on one part today, and it felt like a slog. Meh. There’ll always be bad days, but I feel like momentum helps reduce that. A lesson here: even on busy days, where many tasks are competing for time, it pays to do *something* every day.

With that in mind, I’m thinking more about how best to get things done. Over the last few months I’ve researched and refined techniques and tricks to help me get things done. There’s A LOT of stuff I can say on the subject, so I’m thinking about how to make that part of this blog. Earlier today I’ had a really healthy conversation about sharing knowledge and resources, something I was resistant to. It’s not useful* (*key word for a future post) to be possessive about my methods, so starting next week I’ll be aiming to make this blog a useful resource for creative productivity. I’m being honest and saying now that I’m not sure how far I can take that idea, but I’ll certainly try. If one other person improves their creative output after reading this blog, it’ll be worth exploring… stay tuned!

Studio Diary #6

Today is the first day that this opening out into more than just a song. That was the goal to start with of course, but I’ve been so super engrossed in the first song, it started to feel like the only song. Panning out a little and taking a couple of more songs, the album looks like it could take shape.

That’s right. I said album.

It feels like an album is there. What this means in this day and age, I’m not sure, ’album’ sounds a little antiquated, but it’s definitely a cohesive body of work.

Whatever I end up putting out, I can honestly I’ve never been more excited about releasing material. It’s early days, but I feel like my best work is taking shape… that all sounds terribly vague, terribly cryptic, once again I’m dancing about architecture. I’m almost ready to pull the trigger on letting some sounds out into the world. That’s something I’ve not felt up to doing in over two years. My crisis of confidence in my abilities to make records has been well nurtured, but I finally feel myself coming out of it. It’s exciting. I’m excited about my music again, and I hope you will be too. 🙂