Video: Imogen Heap’s Ableton-Controlling Gloves

We’ve seen exciting advancements in live looping and performance control in recent years, particularly in Beardyman’s new setup. Today we’re excited to share this video (originally published by WiredUK in January) of Imogen Heap and her 3D performance gloves that she uses to control her Ableton Live session.

“It’s really like playing an instrument in 3D space” – Imogen Heap

We’ve seen other videos of Imogen’s gloves before, but here she does a great job of explaining the evolution and function of the system, and gives a solid demo performance. She’s also using a Kinect in this video to create onstage locations that have their own associated effects- like an echo when she’s further from the audience.

The video is below – but if you need a synopsis of what to watch, here’s a quick guide:

  • 0:00 – 7:20: her explanation of the evolution of the concept behind the instrument
  • 7:20 – 13:20: her talk through demo of each of the different types of movements and controls available in her rig
  • 13:20 – 19:56: her performance

[Via WiredUK – read the full story on Imogen Heap and her gloves]

ableton liveglove instrumentimogen heaplive performersmicrosoft kinect
Comments (59)
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  • Amine laifi

    jesus christ! Music technology hit a new level. The future is going to be wicked

  • Al Simons


  • Gev

    Imogen Heap doesn’t generally produce bad music but this is awful. Demonstrates some kinda cool effects but the ‘song’ she performs sounds like shit.

  • Ronald Edwards

    I believe that this has more of a future than touchscreens. I have a new-found respect for Imogen Heap because she’s pioneering this new interface and she doesn’t let the technology take over her artistic style. Enterprising controller manufacturers should look long and hard at this video to see where they should be spending their energies.

  • Anonymous

    reminds me of Laurie Anderson’s live work

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure many of you remember Laurie Anderson from the 80’s. She was probably the pioneer of this kind of performance art. She had this love affair with midi and sound. Its nice to see other people carry on like that. Ableton is so versatile.

  • An old fart

    There are many other past artists doing very very similar things. This is not new technology par-se.

  • Maestro's fan

    Great performance, I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the explanation part of it gave me a better understanding of how it is done. Love it, I just love it.

  • kiki

    vittu mitä paskaa

  • really?

    lets clarify. If you’re song includes the line “relationship… asterisk” and you look like you are 40, you suck.

    • Blade

      ask yourself… Would you care as much where she male? My bet is you’d think about it less… Hmm

      • antifm

        why be an asshat here? actually i watched the whole thing without skipping yet i dont find her attractive. Guess that debunks your theory there chappy. Never the less. THis is new technology and its nice we have the benefit of watching it in its early development. id like to keep tabs on something like this to watch it develop more over the years.

        • rellimnave

          I have a question, why argue about this? really what good is coming of disputing what now has really nothing to do with the main point of the video? I think it’s cool tech, I don’t like the song, but some people so just let them be.

    • DJ Shiva

      OMG because people can’t make music and also age. Especially women. *eyeroll*

    • Yes, really.

      Let’s clarify you suck. Period.

    • Jeffrey Muhr

      So how old are YOU? When a woman is 40, they “suck”?

    • Apoplexia Music

      you are a dirty stinky mysoginistic troll. GTFO

    • Anonymous

      lets clarify. Imogen Heap has done a lot more with her life than you have.

    • Anonymous

      don’t feed the troll.

    • Ronald Edwards

      I think you missed… pretty much everything about this presentation. Imogen showed how she was able to not only record and play back live, but how she was able to manipulate (in real-time) things she not only recorded, but live changes. This is one very powerful controller and its only downside is that it’s not as accurate as a turntablist on a crossfader with a record. I’d rather watch someone half as pretty as Imogen Heap perform their Controllerist set all night versus Paris Hilton “DJing” behind decks. After watching this performance I’m thinking “Wow, all the new gear I have is dated already.”

      To anyone who thinks ageism is acceptable like “really?”:

      It’s an interesting thing that a sizable amount of people in their youth displays extreme ageism as though removing everyone over whatever age they feel is acceptable will make the world a better place to be. I’m over 40 and I entertain my entire crowd because I understand the dynamics of how cross-generational entertainment works (I guess that comes from years of experience) and play to it, not just the certain people I consider “worthwhile” as you do. DJing is a form of entertainment, that entertainment works best when it speaks to the core of the listener and brings people together.

      Go play to your elitist, under-40 group, “really?” the day will come you’ll either be 40 or dead… the only way to avoid getting older is to die. Try and remember that when you’re feeling ageist next time.

  • really?

    what an annoying bitch

    • DJ Shiva

      Your intensely thoughtful comment is eclipsed only by your stunning mastery of language.

    • Apoplexia

      if you don’t like her or her music, why are you wasting your time and energy trolling and bitchin like such a douche? get a life

  • Dinh Thai

    Insane technology. Looks super cool, but the presentation and her outfit completely distracts from what is really going on.

    • JC

      |the presentation and her outfit completely distracts from what is really going on.

      I couldn’t disagree more.

  • Anonymous

    Imogen heap is my favorite 😀

    haha i also have been using a kinect with a laser harp i have been working on 😀

  • Stewe

    Pretty nice mapping there 🙂

  • lauti


    • wrswun

      “ya well uh, just keep ur powergloves off her pal huh”

  • Jacob

    This was amazing very well done

  • Ross Garrett

    the irony of presenting on motion control, yet no MiniDv-HDMI cable around 🙂

  • Shawnyd

    Very interesting! I’m glad to see an artist like Imogen Heap get excited about the tech with her music.

    • Oscar Peñas

      she always had a big interest in technology. i remember she had a pretty neat setup with lots of loopers in which she would create a whole song by using only her voice, a bit like beardyman but obviously in her own style. really cool stuff!

      • Shawnyd

        That’s awesome! I had no idea. Have you seen the LEAP yet? I’m very excited to see how we can use it similar to this.

      • LTD.Edition

        Cool, you might appricate Brian Eno’s Discreet music then, he was the first person to use loops like that.

      • Anton Carlsson

        There you have the song you’re talking about. It’s amazing

  • Kento

    interesting, but so many glitches that I can’t see it being practical. That hand sensing bar thing you guys posted a few months back seems like a better fit for DJs.

    • Peter Slater

      Maybe not that practical now, but if it stays under development who knows? It’s not production quality, it’s a prototype, and it’s pretty friggin bonkers.

      I want to see more tech like this. I know I’d love a pair of crazy DJ gloves.

    • Anonymous

      We just watched an actual performance done with this – I’m not sure how you could say it’s not “practical.”

      It might not fit *your* style like a glove, so to speak, but it’s definitely working out for Imogen Heap!

      • Kento

        I watched the performance at the end and it works for sure. But that’s for a set routine with a little room for improv. When I’m DJing I like to have a lot of freedom.

        • Speezy Speez

          yeah i know, right? i hate when bands or singer / songwriters get up on stage and play music that they already wrote. such bullshit.

          • Apoplexia

            yeah i know…it so much more limiting than actually playing your own music! gosh! 😛

          • Speezy Speez

            just to be clear i was making fun of the notion that because she is using gloves to play instruments inside ableton that is somehow different than if she were standing up there with a guitar.

            it’s pretty much the exact same thing as saying “that acoustic piano routine would not fit into my DJ set so it has no value”

          • Graham Burgess

            its pretty impressive stuff however its nothing new steve hogarth out of marillion was doing stuff with midi gloves like this in 1989.

          • Speezy Speez

            cool story. irrelevant, but sort of cool, i guess.