Monday, September 6, 2010

Things, unfolding

What to write about this week, it seems everything is happening at once… let’s see:

Guitar controller

I’ve decided to create a guitar-like controller as an intermediary learning experience before tackling the meta-trombone project I previously described. Mr. Funk’s own guitar controller (video below) is quite remarkable.

Where he cobbled together a nice collection of hardware components (an Electrix Repeater, an Alesis AirFX and what looks like the remnants of a midi keyboard) I would prefer to keep my “guitar” small and adaptable by making it a general purpose controller for computer music.

I’d like to cannibalize a USB keyboard for parts to provide the interface between the controller’s buttons and the computer as described in this tutorial. A guitar hero strum button would be placed in the middle of the controller to be activated by the right hand. I’d place a row of buttons on the guitar neck to be activated by the left hand. I might also include some mercury switches to determine the orientation of the neck. On the software side, I’d use Bidule to interpret the commands into MIDI signals to control parameters of effects and playback of music.

One obvious use of this controller would be to use it to ‘play’ a sound or a loop as a guitar. The strum button would control a gate filter, letting sound through only when it is activated by the right hand. The left hand buttons on the neck could control a pitch shifting effect. Combining the two should result in a single string guitar that can produce sounds from the playback of any sound source.

Metatrombone and trombone controllers

My research has turned up some interesting experiments in creating electronic musical controllers based on the trombone and an extended trombone instrument called the Metabone. However, just like Nicolas Collins “trombone-propelled electronics”, both of these experiments do not use the actual trombone sounds acoustically, as I intend to do.

Trombone, non-meta variety

I’ve started playing with the Music Conservatory’s Big Band last week and I’m pretty confident this group will be swinging in no time. It feels pretty good to be playing with others again and I look forward to learning some new charts.


Earlier this year I was invited to participate in a forthcoming (December) sequential arts publication called Les fumettos du Cyclope that will showcase experimental and cutting-edge comics from both emerging and well established artists. My two contributions will be philosophical in nature, one is a first-aid kit for an existential crisis and the other is based on one of my early short films inspired by the events leading to the death of Socrates. I have to complete everything by the end of the month, so no time to waste on that front.

That’s pretty much it, aside from the constant demands of wedding planning…