The midi controller will engage pitch slides based on user input in two directions.
The two options for this are a joystick connected to board or an accelerometer & gyroscope.
If the board is attached to the joystick well it will most likely be more accurate with consistent use.
In the video above I tested a simple chord progression with pitch slides. I want the controller to be locked in scale so looking at chords or single notes is useful as a study. These notes wobble and change together. I started to slowly move the pitch within one semitone slowly up and down. These created really interesting effects that feel like rising and falling. The more energy (acceleration) in the change of pitch within this scale almost creates its own wah effect. The wah effect and pedals, generally spike one frequency, and turning the pedal on and off creates the wah. I think this pitch bending wah effect is also a slightly more subtle way of achieving a similar result. I want to connect the tactile nature of speeding up the pitch bend- to the way we get the input in the controller.
My project does not deal with rhythm as directly. I want to create an exploratory tool, but one that is within the confines of a DAW. As we saw in class the DAW handles the time signature and BPM. I want to trigger midi and metadata for certain parameters of built in instruments/effects. Last week I was testing the automation of pitch using the plug-in Alterboy by Soundtoys. Something I discovered was that any pitch alteration beyond around .2 semitones starts to sound off, especially in an arpeggiator. Therefore I want my tool to constrain wobble effects to smaller amounts. I also discovered that slides sound really nice but have to be done quickly.
Create a movement interaction for wobble
Create a movement interaction for slides
I’m really inspired by the work with the accelerometer in this project by Amanda Ghassaei.
To start experimenting with user paths I honed in my idea on an expressive tool for pitch modulation. This tool must also be locked into scale to make it more interesting. An artist named Blankfor.ms in using the Roli Seaboard said “There’s an ocean between Db and Eb.” This always inspired me to see what else is possible. I wanted to take this concept further and develop a responsive board to ride the ocean pitch wave.
One of the most popular plugins in modern producing is called RetroColor. A defining feature of RetroColor is its “wobble effect module” that rides the pitch like a tape or vinyl would. I believe that giving the user more expressibility in this function would be of benefit.
In the video I show the setup for my device. I want to use pads instead of notes to get away from the standard piano. Instead of the automation I want to use an accelerometer and gyroscope to respond to pitch changes while notes/chords are being played.
I have been keeping an open mind for my project and I’ve found a few things interest me most. One being circular representation of sequencing, as well as simple ways to create organic and new sounds.
Example 1: Orbit by LDM Design
This is a really interesting project because it is all done in the code/design which I find really clever. This is beneficial because the hardware system is already really robust. The placing of the buttons on the perimeter of the circle in the grid is another great design choice, despite the issue of making a circular module in a grid system.
Example 2: Pocket Operators by Teenage Engineering
Teenage Engineering have somewhat of a cult following in the music hardware space. They produced the OP-1 which is one of the most popular modern hardware synths, and it is known for its small form factor with surprisingly powerful sounds. There is a really strong learning curve to that device but once mastered it is pretty intuitive. I wanted to design something more simple and easy to play around with. That’s when I stumbled upon the Pocket Operators they produce. I love the playfulness of the design and how easy it looks to start playing around.
Example 3: Circuit Mono Station by Novation
I really enjoy this device’s design because it has a nice mix of pads to buttons. There is a 4×8 grid of pads with some simple/standard synthesizer controls on top, all in a pretty small form factor.
Example 4: Seaboard Block- Roli
The seaboard block by Roli is also really interesting to me when it comes to creating unique sound because it lets you bend between the pitches of the notes effortlessly. Seeing one of these played well really makes the case for always having that sort of flexibility on the keys but does require quite a bit of practice to master.
Who is it for?
I want my project to be used by anyone looking to create unique sonic textures for use in music production. It has to be intuitive and I don’t want to use a piano as the input. Therefore music skills are not necessarily required. I am definitely a part of the group this is intended for and can help test it myself.