For some experiments we are conducting on piano playing I have been looking for a way of measuring muscle activity, or electromyography as it is more properly called:

Electromyography (EMG) is a medical technique for evaluating and recording physiologic properties of muscles at rest and while contracting. EMG is performed using a instrument called an electromyograph, to produce a record called an electromyogram. An electromyograph detects the electrical potential generated by muscle cells when these cells contract, and also when the cells are at rest.

I have been able to dig up the following information about the usage of EMG in musical contexts:

  • Atau Tanaka has been performing with his nWear system, a wireless and scalable biosensor system. He has made a nice poster on how to recognize gestures from EMG data.
  • Pamela Z has been using the Body Synth which apparently outputs MIDI and is still available from Synthzone.
  • S.S.S has been using the Biomuse an 8 channel biocontroller from 1992.
  • It seems like the company that made Biomuse, BioControl Systems run by Benjamin Knapp, has moved on to produce the Telemuse which:

incorporates three proprietary on-board dry electrodes for acquiring high quality bioelectric signals with little or no skin prep. The self contained unit includes biosignal acquisition (ECG, EMG, EOG, EEG, and GSR) and processing hardware, Zigbee data transceiver, and battery. With the Zigbee equipped TeleMuse™, our customers can create ad hoc sensor networks at the touch of a button.