Synapse for Kinect can be a powerful tool for music-making when set up with a bit of care. It can become a way of performing and constructing complex tracks on the fly.
As with many new developments, the initial novelty of being able to make music with a Kinect is great fun to play with. But as with any musical instrument it takes time and patience to learn how to use it as a serious live performance tool.
This track uses Synapse to control five different synths/devices in Ableton Live. By carefully mapping different sections of the range of movements on x, y and z axes, two arms can simultaneously transmit MIDI notes, control effects (such as filters) and mix the volumes for each of the tracks. The drum loops are triggered using a Wii remote and OSCulator.
Its interesting to see how different approaches to the development of Kinect/music software create different possibilities for performance. Kinectar and Synapse use different approaches to turning movement into music – the kinds of music its possible to create are different for each. In the long run, it is the interaction between developers and musicians (and both these developers are musicians) that will lead to more exploration of the amazing potential for musical expression through gesture and movement that the Kinect offers.
As the hardware/software technologies mature (with lower latency and higher resolution than the current Kinect) there is plenty of potential for gestural performance to become as subtle and expressive as any traditional instrument.