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  1. #1
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    The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    (I made a similar, shorter post in the "Currently available SDK with actual hardware?" thread, but I doubt many people would see it... Later, I made a similar post in electro-music.com's forum.)

    Currently, the Continuum Fingerboard, invented by Dr. Lippold Haken, is the most versatile musical instrument (interface) I know of. A pressure-sensitive keyboard-like surface allows three degrees of freedom for each finger: pitch (left-right), volume (pressure), and some other variable (up-down). All of these parameters are continuous (to some resolution) and extremely programmable (sounds, tunings, filters). See my favorite example. It does suffer from some problems, though:

    • The output is MIDI messages, which can lead to incompatibility, and seems geared toward other synthesizers, not computers.

      The Continuum and the synthesizer[s] would cost too much for the average hobbyist, and would have an unwieldy setup process.

      As with any keyboard, reach is limited (although it can be reduced by configuring notes closer), and the fingers are not that independent (piano professionals, can you wiggle three fingers on each hand in different directions?). Vibrato and tremolo, possible on the Continuum, are important parts of expression.

      While minor, when two fingers get close enough, the sensors' interpolation sees only one finger. Beat frequencies are impossible unless notes are configured far away from each other, but there goes the range.


    While not better in every way, Sixense's upcoming controller looks like the future of music to me. Hold one in each hand, and their positions and orientations control six pitches and volumes respectively (see Wikipedia). The controls and parameters would also be continuous and programmable. The output would be as compatible as the SDK with the computer. The price would be the cost of the controllers, sensor, computer, SDK (for the developer[s]), and possibly whatever Sixense and Razer want in royalties (for a free and open-source program? I hope not!). Control would be with the arms and wrists, precise yet with wider range than fingers, although they would need rest, and the two controllers would need separate areas to avoid colliding or crossing. The beat problem leaves too. And that's to say nothing about portability and durability (or difficulty...).

    So, what say you, Sixense/Razer? May I/we please use the SDK for this purpose, or do you want to undertake this musical step forward? I saw the Sixense Synth video and hope that you can still make this brainchild a reality.

    What say you, reader? Any ideas, corrections, or daydreams?

    P.S. About me: I am a humble 17-year-old whose only musical experience is several years of improvisation on the piano.

  2. #2
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    Let's name the instrument Mu6.

    Since no one's talking yet, I'll start. The program that will read the controllers and make sound needs a name. I like Mu6, as in 'I want my Mu6!' No Greek letters; the wordplay needs to be obvious.

  3. #3
    Administrator Dan's Avatar
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    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    Thanks for your input, we've actually had this in mind for a while. This video is old but shows some early development of the controllers with audio.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNRhA7QLx4E

    You may see updated media pertaining to this in the near future.
    Dan Paullus
    Art Director
    Sixense Entertainment

  4. #4
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    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    Now that CES 2011 is out of the way, how near is 'in the near future'? Before April? By the end of January?

  5. #5

    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    Well, the thing's releasing in april, can you wait until then?

  6. #6
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    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    But Mu6 probably won't. On the bright side, there's still the SDK...

  7. #7
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    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    On a completely unrelated note, I felt like designing a Mu6 webpage (some things here are wishes):

    http://mu6.com (taken )

    [left]

    On the upper right is an open PC (plugged into an off-screen outlet) displaying "Mu6". On the upper left is a base station (plugged into the PC) with the words "powered by the Razer Hydra". Four cords plug into that; the left two controllers are replaced by the text "optional".The third is a controller but small/far away. The right controller is large/close with a 'magnifying glass' showing the triggers on the back. Superimposed on the remote are the x/y/z axes with a circle around each. Just to the left of the remote is a musical staff (with the clef replaced by a 6) with a couple of slurred notes and crescendos/decrescendos.

    [middle]

    vertical line

    [right]

    (big) Available for PC and Razer Switchblade midnight May 13, 2011 (Get it? May B) in [countdown].
    (big) Community (vertical link on upper right)
    ----
    Finally, a multi-note continuous music controller under 100USD:

    [left]

    • 6 notes
      6 variable effects*
      too many binary/discrete-level effects

    at once.

    [middle]

    vertical line

    [right]

    positions and orientations
    control sticks and triggers
    arbitrary combinations of 14 buttons
    Seriously.
    ----
    • positions and orientations accurate to 1 mm and 1 degree
      alternative coordinate systems to XYZ
      adjustable center of rotation
      filter option for unsteady hands
      configurable on the fly
      programmable
      equalization capabilities for any audio setup
      growing code library
      load and save configurations and performances, including microphone input
      informative visuals like harmonics
      integrated tutorials
      doesn't require batteries
      online community
      The program is free. The PC is not included. Buy the Hydra.
    ----
    *effects include sounds, filters, tunings, ranges, disabling notes, and other code

  8. #8
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    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    Any other facts/wishes anyone would like to add?

  9. #9

    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    Well, my DAW allows assigning joysticks to midi functions, so as long as I can get to all the functions through a joystick output then I can do whatever I need

  10. #10
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    Re: The Most Versatile Musical Instrument

    Here's my idea for the 'Community' link on the fake webpage. The Sixense forum would get a third category: Mu6. These are the subforums:

    General Discussion
    News

    Q&A
    Troubleshooting

    DAWs
    Data Exchange

    Performance
    Music Theory

    Stories
    Other Instruments

    Off-topic

    Am I missing anything? Are there any ambiguities regarding where things should be posted?


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