The T-Stick

Participants: Joseph Malloch
D. Andrew Stewart (DCS)
Marcelo M. Wanderley (supervisor)
The first T-Stick prototype.
Funding: FQRSC (McGill Digital Orchestra project)
CIRMMT student awards: 2005-2006, 2006-2007
Project Type: Master's thesis (M.A. in Music Technology)
Ph.D. thesis since 2007
Time Period: 2005–Present. (Ongoing.)

Project Description

The T-Sticks are a family of gestural musical controllers designed and built by Joseph Malloch. The first prototype (a tenor) was completed in 2006, a second (alto) T-Stick was completed in early 2007. The hardware is presently in its third revision and approximately twenty more T-Sticks have been built, including several prototypes integrating haptic feedback and additional sensing modalities.

The T-Stick grew out of a collaborative project undertaken by Joseph Malloch and composition student D. Andrew Stewart, partially funded by a CIRMMT student award, and also out of collaboration with performers as part of the McGill Digital Orchestra project. The T-Stick has been performed and demonstrated many times internationally, including appearances in Canada, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, and the USA.

The T-Stick can sense where and how much of it is touched, tapping, twisting, tilting, squeezing, and shaking. The output of the sensors is sent over USB to Max/MSP software, which processes the data and maps it to sound synthesis parameters.

The T-Stick is intended to be an “expert” musical interface: engaging to new users, allowing virtuosic playing, and “worth practicing” in that practice time results in increased skill.




Joseph Malloch. "A Framework and Tools for Mapping of Digital Musical Instruments". PhD thesis, McGill University. Thesis defended on November 04, 2013.


D. Andrew Stewart. "Vigorous Music-Making: The Inherent ``Liveliness'' of a T-Stick Instrumentalist". In Proceedings of the 2010 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC2010), ICMA, 2010.

D. Andrew Stewart and Joseph Malloch. "Everybody to the power of one, for soprano T-Stick". In CHI '10 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, 2010, pages 3093–3096.

Joseph Malloch. "Building a Soprano T-Stick". Technical report number MUMT-IDMIL-10-01, 2010.


Joseph Malloch. "The T-Stick Gestural Controller". Technical report number MUMT-IDMIL-06-01, 2006.

Unpublished Resources