Pili Egea: The Melody of a Look

Pili Egea: The Melody of a Look

As a child, in the 70s, I thought that I would have loved to write with pencil and paper all those stories that danced inside me like a chimera. Three decades later, here I am; my thoughts, opinions and stories come to you through a website hosted in cyberspace. The arrival of computers and the Internet was a liberation for me and my stories. What I would never have imagined, however, is that one day when I would play music with my eyes. And now I am starting to do it! With only four classes with Zacharias (and occupational Edda de Carli) I am convinced that the EyeHarp would become a standard instrument in any orchestra or musical group. I often wonder what I would have done if science and technology did not exist…

Zacharias Vamvakousis together with Rafael Ramírez (researchers from the Group of Research in Musical Technology of the Pompeu Fabra University) have created the EyeHarp software, an innovative tool that is 100% inclusive, which allows people with reduced mobility to have the opportunity to enjoy playing music. The design of this interface is a circle that contains boxes of different colors, and in each of them it is a note of the musical scale. A special camera, that acts as a reader of eye or head movements, sends a signal to the computer. It detects the place where you have set your eyes on the screen and the corresponding note sounds. In this way, and successively, look after look, note after note, rhythm by rhythm, you play a melody with Zacharias’ guitar accompaniment.

In order to play the EyeHarp effectively, the notes of the melodic piece are shown on the screen, although the software also allows you to compose your own melodies. The EyeHarp interface offers you the possibility to choose between several instruments, apart from having a range of treble and bass, and modify the speed of the notes.

This inclusive project was created in 2012. Zacharias is a musician who plays Greek folk music in a band. His life had taken a turn when his friend, also a musician, became paraplegic because of an accident. Zacharias felt the need to come up with software to facilitate playing music. Years later, this brave musician and researcher continues the project by making it known to other people, passionate about music for those whose physical limitations prevent them from playing in a conventional way.

The most outstanding student of Zacharias’ is Joel Bueno. He is 11 years old and his Cerebral Palsy did not stop him from performing his first concert at the Gran Teatre de Liceu in Barcelona last January. There is no doubt that this little genius will become a great musician. As for me, I will continue taking small steps learning the EyeHarp, in the company of Zacharias, and sharing the music of my gaze.

Pili Egea

Pili is a writer with cerebral palsy and an EyeHarp student.

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