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Vol. 39 No. 1 (2023): Reconnecting

Ode to My Frayed Nerves: Exploring Physical Trauma through Gestural Control

October 31, 2021


Ode to My Frayed Nerves is a composition for technology, extended vocal techniques such as overtone singing and growling, and gesture. The work sonically explores the sensations that occur in my left hand due to a physical trauma. This paper discusses how these sensations are realised sonically, implementation of the MiMu system (MI.MU Gloves Ltd, 2010) and accompanying performance gestures, and how it has shaped the creative output and immersion in the activity and sound environment. The piece explores how a physical trauma may be expressed through an immersive sound performance.

The exploration is grounded in embodiment studies, which discuss the intertwining perceptions of the brain, body, and objects in actions, and performative autoethnography to document the interactions. Preliminary conclusions yield that the glove-based gestural sound manipulation of voice can encourage or enable an embodied experience, but it can be fleeting due to sensor drift, rigorous preparation demands, and performance variabilities. However, the ability to paint and malleate a sound environment without physically touching a computer is powerful and absorbing activity.