1984 - 1989 The Hands (first version)

Waisvisz with first version of The Hands


The Hands were used in concert for the first time in The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1984.

The instrument consists of a number of sensors and keys mounted on two small keyboards that are attached to the players hands. The combination of many different sensors to capture the movements of the hands, the fingers and the arms is still unique and make The Hands still one of the most refined and musical MIDI-controllers.

Waisvisz has used The Hands in a great number of concerts in Europe, the USA and Japan. The Hands have become his primary instrument.

The Hands have been rebuilt and reprogrammed many times. Also The Hands have controlled a vast variety of MIDI-instruments: Yamaha DX7's, 802's, TX7's,SY99's, Emu samplers and STEIM's Lick Machine, Sam and LiSa and more recently also STEIM's visual performance program Image/ine.

To translate the sensor information in a musical way into MIDI-codes a small computer is worn on the back of the performer. This computer 'The SensorLab' is programmable so that for each work a unique relationship between the performers gestures and the musical output can be programmed.


Many STEIM designers and Engineers have been involved in the construction of the first version of The Hands:

Johan den Biggelaar - first version/prototype (both The Hands and an early SensorLab)

Wim Rijnsburger - software design early SensorLab

Hans Venmans - inspiring repairs

Peter Cost - R & D final SensorLab

Tom Demeijer - design ROM software for the final SensorLab

Bert Bongers - construction second version of The Hands

Frank Balde - design performance software for The SensorLab