At Upward Mobility, we have provided our students with the incredible iMuse Suite. The iMuse Suite is a collection of integrated technologies that work together to create a space of light, movement, sound and colour. There are microphones around the room to pick up voices and sounds, and a projector that displays a range of sound-reactive visuals. Embedded in the floor is a soundboard speaker that converts low sounds to a deep bass rumbling vibration. Chairs, mats and wheelchairs can feel the vibrations of the sounds created in the room through the soundboard.
A motion capture camera runs through a dedicated laptop, and uses software to turn movement into music. There are over 100 different instruments to choose from, and the key, pitch, range and volume can all be adjusted. Furthermore the software can loop, repeat and change the pitch of vocalisations said into a wireless microphone. The laptop can be used to record voices, or play music and videos. Fiona’s favourites are Enya, Evelyn Glennie and Adele and claims the iMuse is “a piece of magic!”
The colours that the projector displays on the wall can be fine-tuned to a user’s preferences. Fiona has completed a few projects using the iMuse Suite. For example, the dance track. Fiona picked out bright colours that reacted to the sounds created. Then a microphone was used to record her voice to act as a sample on a loop. We then spent time testing out different instruments, until Fiona was able to pick out the ones she thought best matched her idea, and then arranged them in a sequence. She then used the motion capture camera so she could creature the music through movement. The final project was filmed, with the dance track and visuals coming together to make a music video.
Other projects Fiona has created include a spoken word poem themed around a rainstorm. “I used the poem that I made, colourmaps, sound looping and my arm to make glockenspiels sounds like raindrops. Another included a guided visualisation – inspired by my own sensory needs and other visualisations I have listened to. I wanted to make my own. This ended up being a wonderful 16 minute long story about a castle, and trying to find the right key to open a golden door. My current project is to tell a new fairy-tale, because then nobody knows what’s coming next – its mysterious! It’s about cats, baddies, spells and fairies. I use the iMuse to record my voice so I can narrate my own story.”
iMuse can be used by a range of people, and can be tailored to a person’s preferences, for example, using a bright colour space which lights up the room with the slightest sound to encourage vocalisations, or having a relaxing safe space to chill out in, with a mat on the floor sound board so that you can lay down and feel the music. All our iMuse students use the iMuse in a different way!
Fiona says “all motions and sounds create an effect.” And that listening to music makes “different pieces come alive.”
The iMuse Suite benefits lots of students use the iMuse for different purposes. One likes to the turn the volume up high and rock out, some come in early and use it to relax before a busy day, some use it as a creative space for song writing and composition, and others like the feedback loops they can create with their vocalisations!
Visitors to Upward Mobility often get a tour round the building to see the facilities. Fiona often volunteers to show off the iMuse! “I like the expressions on their face because they’ve never seen anything like it before! I like to show off different elements the iMuse Suite can do!”
The iMuse Suite is extremely enjoyable, “It makes it real – you can feel the beat through the floor as well as seeing Evelyn’s expressions – and with the music all around it’s like I was there”.
–Upward Mobility & Fiona
If you have a story to tell us about the influence Evelyn has had on you, we would love to hear it! Feel free to email it in to firstname.lastname@example.org and if you wish for it to be on our blog, do let us know. Together, lets #TeachTheWorldToListen.