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Watch: The Future Of DJing, Beatboxing, And Instrumentation

Our favorite Leap Motion beatboxer is back, and this time, he’s plugged himself into digital music at a whole new level.

Watch: The Future Of DJing, Beatboxing, And Instrumentation

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.

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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.

Visit the project site.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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