Chagall – Sappho Song

Sunday Synth Jam: This video captures a performance by Chagall of a work for voice and glove-controlled vocal harmonizer, Sappho Song.

Chagall uses gloves to translate her hand gestures into MIDI control of a harmonizer. She maps various hand gestures to control over how her vocal phrases are harmonized, and then incorporates those control gestures into her performances.

18 thoughts on “Chagall – Sappho Song

  1. Love this!

    In case there’s any doubt, this is what she does live. When I saw her perform, she explained that she used the up/down hand movements to bring the harmonies in and out. And the position of her fingers controlled the harmony notes.

  2. Never heard of Chagall until this. The official video for Hidden is awesome and the song is absolutely beautifully written, composed, and performed.

  3. As impressive as her performance is (both visually and sonically), I wonder what the gloves can do musically. Instead of precisely controlling a keyboard and its knobs and wheels, you wave your hands without any feedback.

    1. You get feedback with your ears, like with any instrument.

      You could do the same things with a standard midi keyboard, but it would not be graceful, beautiful or intriguing, like this is.

      The point of this is to allow performer to create new types of performances.

      1. Yet I wonder how performative the gloves really are. When you have to stick to a predefined scale of movements and gestures, it reduces your possibilities as a dancer. I guess the harmonies she uses in the song can’t be changed spontaneously – so this reduces your musical options, too. Not trying to bash the product, just trying to figure out how it works and how it can be used.
        Also, a comparison between this and Leap Motion apps like Geco MIDI would be interesting.

    2. It’s interesting how peoples’ perspectives are shaped by what they’re familiar with.

      A lot of people think that your ‘precise’ MIDI controllers are profoundly limiting toys, compared to traditional instruments, because most MIDI controllers ignore what you do with your body, ignore the details of where you put your fingers, ignore how hard you press, etc.

      1. Of course, a Theremin gives you more precise control than a MIDI controller and a MIDI glove. I was just thinking about the musical ‘surplus’ you get here, compared to something else you could use your hands for.

  4. Hm, looks fake. Cannot relate these gestures to harmonizer controls. Can you? Anyway, a simple remote with a couple of knobs could do. The costume is nice though.

    1. She explains some of the technical details and also why she doesn’t want to perform behind a table of MIDI controllers in this video:

  5. sad that you humans have evolved to where you think a pair of gloves is amazing,this is sad i much rather she could articulate her voice with out a pair of motorcycle gloves with a arduino in ffs.

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