Open Forum


, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 85-91

First online:

Wearable music in engaging technologies

  • Franziska SchroederAffiliated withSonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast Email author 
  • , Pedro RebeloAffiliated withSonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast

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We address the relationship between a music performer and her instrument as a possible model for re-thinking wearable technologies. Both musical instruments and textiles invite participation and by engaging with them we intuitively develop a sense of their malleability, resistance and fragility. In the action of touching we not only sense, but more importantly we react. We adjust the nature of our touch according to a particular material’s property. In this paper we draw on musical practice as it suggests attitudes of specificity rather than adaptability. This practice exposes the design of generalised “multi-use” devices, such as the all-in-one electronic organ, as rooted in utilitarian thinking. We argue that this tendency ignores the complexities of musical cultures and thus fails to provide technologies, which provoke creative action rather than aim for the promise of control and efficiency.