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Funky Controllers


Tusker

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I am wondering if anyone in this community has used the less common midi controllers..... I am thinking of stuff like the Tactex pad, Buchla Lightning, Infusion Systems, even the Kaoss pad.

 

What have your experiences been like? What kinds of applications would you reccommend them for (if any)?

 

Regards,

 

Jerry

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Originally posted by Tusker:

I am wondering if anyone in this community has used the less common midi controllers..... I am thinking of stuff like the Tactex pad, Buchla Lightning, Infusion Systems, even the Kaoss pad.

 

What have your experiences been like? What kinds of applications would you reccommend them for (if any)?

 

Regards,

 

Jerry

 

Most alternate MIDI controllers I've seen don't seem practical to me. Even though I am interested in non-mainstream music as opposed to pop, I don't think these controllers are worth the time and money. Unless you enjoy programming unintuitive and tedious control parameters, I'd stick to a tried-and-true keyboard controller with some assignable knobs.

 

I can't see how you can tell what note,chord or synth parameter you are playing on a device like a Midiman Control Surface One for example, just by looking at its interface.

 

http://www.midiman.net/products/midiman/images/surface1_med.jpg

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I use ribbons and breath controllers constantly (not to speak of the wheels) and I'm sure I could use the Tactex in meaningful ways. But only with my left hand - the right hand is always on the keys. Or, I play the notes into a sequencer, then I add the controllers later.

 

I, too used to dream about shaping music in the air or something like that... But even for atonal, avantgarde or simply drone music, I found that the parameters of a musical work are too many to be improvised with a few gestures.

I worked with a mime/dancer who was using a kind of MIDI sticks to shape his timbres - I programmed a few otherworldy sounds and modulation routings for him - but he told me that it was getting boring; he ended up using the few gestures he found worked, and the range of possibilities was either too narrow or scarcely controllable. So he eventually returned to taped music!

To me, the point is: If we're going to use such controllers in a full way, we'll have to redesign our "instruments" (sounds) and performance techniques every time. This is highly impratical, to me at least, since I know my way around the keys, and with the keyboard PLUS controllers I can achieve the same things ten times as fast.

If you're going to devote the necessary years to learn a new interface, then the results could be wonderful. For example, I saw a couple of performances by that Dutch guy who invented "The Hands" (can't remember the name, sorry) and it was AMAZING - but he spent his life with the instrument, and anyway HE NEEDED ANOTHER GUY operating a control surface in order to achieve the complexity of his pieces.

Also, I read about the multi-control keyboard created by Moog and Eaton. It senses velocity, poly aftertouch, finger position on the keys, amount of key covered by finger, PLUS left-hand controllers etc. My God, how could an human learn to control that?! Again, if you devote a few years of your life just to master it, you can succeed and open new roads. Personally, I'm starting to think that the keyboard is here for a reason - it's a very ergonomical way to play complex music with a minimum of effort. Well, maybe the Janko keyboard was even better... :)

 

Carlo

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Originally posted by php:

I can't see how you can tell what note,chord or synth parameter you are playing on a device like a Midiman Control Surface One for example, just by looking at its interface.

 

http://www.midiman.net/products/midiman/images/surface1_med.jpg

 

Hello PhP

This is not exactly an alternate MIDI controller, BUT a surface control driven via an USB port.

 

You assign every ribbon and knob to control a specific parameter on your synth's engine. Just have to do it once.

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at Fender Musical Instruments Company

 

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Originally posted by GusTraX:

 

Hello PhP

This is not exactly an alternate MIDI controller, BUT a surface control driven via an USB port.

 

You assign every ribbon and knob to control a specific parameter on your synth's engine. Just have to do it once.

 

 

According to Midiman , one way of using this is to input notes "In a performance setting as an instrument/controller".

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Thank you all.

 

Originally posted by marino:

I, too used to dream about shaping music in the air or something like that... But even for atonal, avantgarde or simply drone music, I found that the parameters of a musical work are too many to be improvised with a few gestures.

 

...To me, the point is: If we're going to use such controllers in a full way, we'll have to redesign our "instruments" (sounds) and performance techniques every time. This is highly impratical, to me at least, since I know my way around the keys, and with the keyboard PLUS controllers I can achieve the same things ten times as fast.

If you're going to devote the necessary years to learn a new interface, then the results could be wonderful. For example,

 

Agreed, there is efficiency in staying with the keyboard (and in certain areas there is nuance as well). I sometimes dream of some 'space' controller (wave your hands) to supplement the keyboard and add nuance. The trouble is... as you said the learning curve. I do think there is an additional problem.... tactile feedback is extremely important for human beings in internalizing a technique. "Air waving' of any sort is going to provide less feeback than a 'natural' instrument.

 

Still, it would be nice to get a more comprehensive set of left hand controllers....

 

Thanks for sharing,

 

Jerry

 

PS: On a related note... personally I have made a serious commitment to mastering pitch bending on the AN1x ribbon. The tool is pretty good for the purpose. However, it is so-o-o-o much harder than I thought it would be. I have such a great admiration for violinists now.

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